NU sweeps Ateneo to win UAAP Season 80 men's volleyball title | Inquirer Sports
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NU sweeps Ateneo to win UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball title

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 02:30 PM May 02, 2018

The NU Bulldogs celebrate after winning their third UAAP men’s volleyball title. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

National University survived Ateneo in four grueling sets, 25-20, 31-29, 22-25, 33-31, in Game 2 to sweep their best-of-three UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball Finals Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

It took seven match points before the Bulldogs finally put the Blue Eagles away after falling short against them in the finals for the past three seasons and win their third volleyball crown overall.

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“This is our sweetest championship because we waited so long for this day that we will win it again,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin in Filipino.

Bryan Bagunas fired 22 points after scoring 19 in the Bulldogs’ straight-sets win in Game 1 four days ago and was named Finals MVP.

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“We really instilled in our minds that this will be our time to get the championship. We told each and every one of us that we’re not going to give up until we win,” Bagunas told reporters in Filipino.

Bagunas led the way but he wasn’t NU’s only weapon.

James Natividad added 18 points, including a hit that made it, 32-31, before an attempt by Ateneo’s Ron Medalla went out that sealed NU’s first title since winning back-to-back in Season 75 and 76.

Newly-minted five-time MVP Marck Espejo finished with a game-high 30 points after only tallying two points in the opening set. Espejo kept Ateneo alive, saving four championship points.

But while the Blue Eagles leaned heavily on Espejo, the Bulldogs drew solid outings from several players with the likes of Kim Malabunga, Madz Gampong and Francis Saura.

Five of Malabunga’s 10 points came off blocks while Gampong and Saura chipped in eight apiece. Gampong came up with the game’s best defensive play when he denied Espejo with a single block to close the second set.

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TAGS: Ateneo Blue Eagles, Bryan Bagunas, Finals, Game 2, Madz Gampong, Marck Espejo, NU Bulldogs, UAAP Season 80, Volleyball
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