UNDERSCORING the school’s developing sports program, National University captured its first-ever UAAP men’s volleyball title at the expense of perennial champion Far Eastern University on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Bulldogs banked on a remarkable first-set comeback before turning to Jan Paglinawan, Peter Torres, and Rueben Inaudito down the stretch to score a 26-24, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19 victory in the decider of the best-of-three series.
It was a well-deserved triumph for the Bulldogs, the Finals first-timers whose initial goal entering the season was only to make the Final Four after barely missing the semifinals with a fifth-place finish last year.
“Sobrang saya. Tagal naming hinintay ’to,” said Bulldogs coach Dante Alinsunirun. “Tatlong taon naming hinintay pero ngayon dumating na. Nagpapasalamat kami sa Taas na binigay na.”
The back-to-back-title-seeking Tamaraws, who forced a winner-take-all match after taking Game Two, moved on the verge of the taking the first set when they led 24-20, before the Bulldogs scored six unanswered points, capped by a Ruben Baysac service ace, to turn the game around.
The Tamaraws, who own the most titles in the league with 25, had a glimmer of hope after they took the third set through the efforts of John Depamaylo, but the Bulldogs proved too much in the fourth set, where FEU came no closer than four points.
Paglinawan led NU with 16 points while skipper Inaudito contributed 13 markers, while 19-year-old Torres thrust the final dagger as he scored the Bulldogs’ championship point with a spike in the middle and was named Finals MVP.