MANILA, Philippines – Foiled in its sweep bid, National University took the V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge crown just the same, holding off UST, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21, in their do-or-die clash at the Paco Arena on Friday night, December 2.
The Bulldogs nearly blew a huge 16-6 lead in the third as the Tiger Spikers fought back to threaten within three, 20-23, behind Josh Ybañez, Gboy De Vega, Edlyn Colinares, and Charles Magpayo.
Kennry Malinis, however, scored on a hit to put NU at championship point but Nico Almendras served into the net, giving UST a crack at extending the match.
But Malinis broke free in a combination play, lifting the Bulldogs to victory, their second straight championship after beating the Cignal HD Spikers in the recent Spikers Turf.
“In this do-or-die match, I really saw how the players wanted the championship unlike in Game 2 where we relaxed,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin, who also credited the organizing Sports Vision for putting up the men’s volleyball tournament in the run-up to the collegiate wars.
“This is a big help… they’re giving the men’s division a lift.”
UST actually led by two late in the second frame, but back-to-back errors enabled NU to tie the count at 22 before Obed Mukaba shoved them on top on a drop shot.
De Vega countered to draw level again but Mukaba did what he does best, controlling the middle, his back-to-back blocks giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 set cushion.
Mukaba came through with 14 points on 8 attacks, 5 blocks, and an ace, while Almendras, the tournament MVP, and Malinis punched in 12 points each. Almendras also finished 21 excellent receptions and 6 digs.
Ybañez led the Tiger Spikers with 15 points and 12 receptions while De Vega had 14 points and 18 receptions.
NU took Game 1 and the Bulldogs were on course to completing a tournament sweep after winning the first two sets in Game 2. But the Tiger Spikers struck back and went on to pull a 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12 squeaker to force the sudden death. – Rappler.com