NU Bulldogs sweep UST Golden Spikers to claim early finals advantage

NU beats UST for the first time this season
Photo by Jessica Luna/ THE FLAME

FOUR-PEAT-seeking NU Bulldogs crushed the UST Golden Spikers in straight sets, 17-25, 24-26, 19-25, drawing first blood in the opening of the UAAP Season 86 men’s volleyball finals on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

NU’s net presence proved to be a major factor in its victory, as the Bulldogs dominated the net with 12 blocks compared to UST’s 5. Adding to UST’s woes was its 18 unforced errors, which was more than NU’s 14.

In the opening salvo, UST capitalized on NU’s errors, taking an early 8-4 lead. However, the Bulldogs quickly found their rhythm, as opposite hitter Leo Aringo led a swift recovery with three powerful attacks, 11-all. 

Aringo’s offensive prowess propelled NU to a comfortable four-point lead, 17-13. 

The Golden Spikers struggled to contain the offensive onslaught of the Bulldogs, who secured the first set, 25-17.

The second set saw a fierce battle, with both teams exchanging powerful cross-court kills. NU spikers Nico Almendras, Michaelo Budin and Aringo, unleashed unstoppable attacks that UST struggled to contain. 

UST’s Josh Ybañez’s back-to-back off-the-block hits tied the set at 24 all, forcing an extension. However, Buddin capitalized on a crucial block to break the tie, and Ybañez’s attack error handed NU a two-set lead, 26-24.

Ybañez and Gboy De Vega tried to lead a comeback to overcome their error-prone performance in the third set, but NU’s Almendras and Aringo remained dominant defensively.

De Vega attempted to narrow NU’s five-point lead in the final set at 24-19, but Almendras’ well-placed shot ultimately sealed the deal for NU squad, securing a 25-19 victory and a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

Ybañez emerged as the primary scorer for the UST team, contributing 11 points from 10 attacks and an ace. Rookie lefty Sherwin Umandal and middle blocker Paul Colinares added nine points each.

NU’s offensive trio of Almendras, Buddin, and Aringo proved unstoppable, combining for a total of 47 points. 

This marks the first time NU has defeated UST this season.

With momentum on their side, the Bulldogs are just one win away from clinching their fourth consecutive championship. 

The Golden Spikers will try to force a decider when they face the Bulldogs again in Game 2 of the finals series on Wednesday, May 15, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. F

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