UAAP: NU fends off UST for winning start to three-peat bid in men's volleyball

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2020 12:08 PM

UAAP: NU fends off UST for winning start to three-peat bid in men's volleyball 1
National University needed four sets to overcome University of Santo Tomas. UAAP Media

MANILA, Philippines -- National University (NU) displayed its poise in the end game to defeat University of Santo Tomas (UST) in four sets, giving them a triumphant start to their title defense in the UAAP Season 82 men's volleyball tournament.

The three-peat seeking Bulldogs needed to weather a last-ditch rally by the Golden Spikers for a 27-25, 23-25, 25-19, 27-25 triumph, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

UST saved a match point, thanks to the clutch heroics of Joshua Umandal, but NU's net defense and an ace by star setter Joshua Retamar finally ended the match for the Bulldogs. 

"Bago kasi ang naging sistema ng opensa ng UST," said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin. "Yung adjustment namin, medyo mabagal."

"First game nga namin, so medyo matigas pa talaga. Buti na lang noong bandang huli, nakuha namin sa depensa namin," he added.

Nico Almendras, last season's Rookie of the Year, put up 20 points on 17 kills and 2 aces along with 14 excellent receptions, while Edward Camposano marked his NU debut with 19 points on 15 hits and 4 blocks. New team captain James Natividad added 11 points, while Retamar had 21 excellent sets.

The nip-and-tuck fourth set saw the Bulldogs take control, 20-16, before Lorenz Senoron anchored a 4-0 blast that helped the Tiger Spikers tie the game. Included in the run was a block by Rainier Flor on Natividad that was challenged by NU, but their challenge was unsuccessful.

The Bulldogs reached match point, 24-22, off a service error by Senoron, but back to back points by Manuel Medina and a massive backrow hit by Umandal pushed UST ahead, 25-24. Almendras came to NU's rescue, firing a sharp crosscourt attack to knot the count before Aldous Casillan was soundly rejected by a triple block from the Bulldogs.

Retamar then scored NU's 10th ace of the game to seal the deal for the defending champions.

"Kung ano lang po ang pinapgawa nila coach, 'yung sistema, kasi 'yung sistema namin ang magpapanalo sa amin," said Camposano. 

Umandal scored 25 points for UST, and Senoron had 15. The Tiger Spikers committed 3 more unforced errors than NU, 29-26, and two fewer kills, 59-57.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).