By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
DEFENDING UAAP men’s volleyball champions National University Bulldogs made it two straight wins to begin their Season 82 campaign after defeating the Adamson Soaring Falcons in three sets, 25-21, 25-17, 25-23, in the opening game on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Nico Almendras led the back-to-back University Athletic Association of the Philippines champions, tallying a double-double of 16 points and 18 receptions.
He was backstopped by team captain James Natividad, who finished with 12 points.
The Bulldogs, which opened their title defense with a four-set victory over University of Santo Tomas in their season debut on March 4, were in their element as they fended off a spirited challenge from the Falcons, who were making their Season 82 debut.
Towed as well by the steady playmaking of setter Joshua Retamar, NU’s offensive thrust was more fluid than their opening game, helping considerably their cause yesterday.
Adamson, which was led by eight points each from Ed Camposano and Berhashidin Daymil, tried to extend the game in the third frame but just could not complete the task with Almendras and Natividad providing key hits down the stretch to preserve NU’s win.
Unblemished in their first two matches in the season, NU coach Dante Alinsunurin expressed delight albeit underscored that there is still a long way to go and more work needs to be done.
“Hopefully we get to sustain this form. Thankful with the way players are moving and have their focus,” said Mr. Alinsunurin, in Filipino, postgame.
“We played better in this game than the last one but we have to continue to improve and increase our chances of winning,” he added.
LADY BULLDOGS WIN, TOO
The NU Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, followed suit in the second game, dominating the Adamson Lady Falcons in straight sets, 26-24, 25-14, 25-21.
Veteran Aubrey Paran paced the NU women in the victory with 15 points from 10 kills, three aces and two blocks.
NU took the first two sets in contrasting fashion, hanging tough to survive the opening frame before flexing their collective muscle in the second for a runaway win.
In the third frame, the Lady Falcons showed better fight but the Lady Bulldogs were steady in their attack to hold on for the win.
Rookie Margot Mutshima tallied 13 points on seven attacks, three blocks and three aces with Ivy Lacsina and Risa Sato contributing nine and eight points, respectively, in the NU win.
Trisha Genesis led Adamson with 12 points, followed by Grace Toring with 11.
Next for NU is University of the East on March 14 while Adamson plays Far Eastern University on March 11.