NU Bulldogs complete season season sweep for UAAP volleyball three-peat
MANILA, Philippines — National University completed a historic UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball campaign as it swept 16 matches and earned its third consecutive championship after outlasting University of Santo Tomas, 25-20, 25-21, 25-20, in Finals Game 2 on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulldogs hardly missed a beat and came out with a masterful season, earning their first tournament sweep and fifth overall crown.
Michaelo Buddin and Nico Almendras propelled NU anew to take down the Golden Spikers, led by rookie MVP Josh Ybañez, for their 34th straight win dating back to the opening day of Season 81 in 2019.
Team captain Joshua Retamar, who hurt his right knee in their 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 29-31, 15-11 victory in Game 1 last Wednesday, showed no signs of injury as he provided the brilliant plays for the Bulldogs.
NU became the third team to sweep a season in the Final Four era, joining UST, which swept 17 games in Season 71 in 2009, and the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo that had a perfect 16-0 campaign in Season 79 in 2017.
“I’m very thankful for the performance today of my players. Going here today we were really determined to win the title,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, who earned his first-ever ‘three-peat’ in Filipino. “Since the first game it’s been our goal to sweep the Finals. We’re thankful for this win”
“We’re given this opportunity again as a men’s volleyball team to play in the final. I hope the exposure of men’s volleyball continues,” he added.
Retamar, who earned his first UAAP Best Setter award, was also crowned as Finals MVP as he dished out 17 excellent sets and nailed two blocks.
Buddin, who was crowned as 2nd Best Outside Spiker before the game, led the way for NU anew with 20 points and 10 excellent receptions, while Almendras chipped in 14 points, including the finishing touches in the first two sets.
Almendras gave the Bulldogs a 22-16 lead in the third set before his team committed a couple of errors as the Golden Spikers trimmed it down to a three-point deficit, 23-20.
Buddin stopped the bleeding and put NU at championship point, 24-20 before Ybañez’s attack went out which led to the Bulldogs’ wild celebration.
Ybañez led UST with 13 points as they settled for silver in his historic freshman season, becoming a rookie MVP. De Vega had 10 points.
It was the Golden Spikers’ best finish since their silver in Season 74 in 2011.