National University banked on a balanced effort to beat University of Santo Tomas, 19-25, 25-12, 29-27, 25-20, to push its best start in the UAAP men’s volleyball to 6-0 Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Bulldogs had five players in double-figures led by Peter Torres’ efficient 15 points.
“We’re just lucky and my players are really working hard every game,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin in Filipino, who downplayed his team’s stellar start.
“We anticipated their long attempts. Everything we planned against UST, it showed today,” he added.
The Growling Tigers started off fluid with Mark Alfafara leading the way offensively and Salvador Depante patrolling the net.
But UST’s game took a significant dip in the last three sets when Depante sprained his right ankle late in the opening set with the Tigers leading, 19-16.
“That’s part of the game, we adjusted then he got out and that gave us the chance to lead even more.”
Depante was carried out on a stretcher before testing his ankle near UST’s dugout in the third set but was still visibly limping.
NU gained control from there, pouncing on UST’s weakened defensive backline with athletic spiker Reyson Fuentes asserting his will with thundering hits.
Fuentes added 14 points, Edwin Tolentino had 13 points, while skipper Rueben Inaudito and Edwin Tolentino chipped in 12 each.
The Tigers blew a chance to take a 2-1 set lead after squandering a 21-18 edge in the third set.
Alfafara, who tied Torres’ output with 15, put UST ahead by three late but his attempt that would’ve knotted the count for the fifth time in the extended third set got blocked that completed NU’s comeback.
UST, which slipped to 4-2, threatened to give NU a taste of its own medicine in the fourth set when it rallied from six points down to pull to within two, 18-20.
But the Tigers run were cut short as the Bulldogs regrouped just in time to fend off the scare.
Despite the undefeated run, Alinsunurin said his team still have a lot to work on.
“We still have to improve our blocking and service. Our backline got stronger but because of that our blockers tend to depend on them on defense.”