MANILA, Philippines — National University inched closer to sweeping the elimination round and claiming an outright Finals berth as it took down University of Santo Tomas, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 25-21, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday at Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Ken Malinis led the collective effort of the Bulldogs with 16 points off 14 attacks, one ace, and a block, while Obed Mukaba delivered 12 points, including a team-high eight blocks, as they remained unbeaten in 13 games and earned their 31st straight victory dating back to Season 81 in 2019.
Setter Joshua Retamar, who had 19 excellent sets, eight digs, and six points, provided the brilliant plays to Malinis, Obed Mukaba, and Nico Almendras to break a tie at 17 in the fourth and deny the Golden Spikers from forcing a decider.
Almendras and Michaelo Buddin were also instrumental with 13 points each with the latter contributing 16 excellent receptions as NU dominated UST in blocking, 15-1.
“It was a battle of service receive, whoever had the high percentage was the barometer of the game,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin in Filipino. “We’re thankful for the performance of the players even though we had some lapses but they didn’t give up.”
NU tries to complete an elimination round sweep against Ateneo (7-6) on Saturday.
“We have to prepare for Ateneo because their [Final Four fate] lies on our game so we expect them to be more aggressive,” Alinsunurin added.
The Golden Spikers, who already clinched the second seed, dropped their second straight match, sliding to a 10-3 card with Josh Ybañez leading the way with 19 points and five digs.
GBoy De Vega chipped in 14 points and 22 receptions, while Jay Rack Dela Noche had 10 points in his comeback from the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s Japan training camp.
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