NU sets up fourth straight title showdown with Ateneo after eliminating FEU in stepladder
Kim Malabunga and the Bulldogs get another shot at the Blue Eagles. Dante Peralta

NATIONAL University set up a fourth straight title showdown with Ateneo after it turned back Far Eastern University, 23-25, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21, 15-12, on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 79 volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

The opener of the best-of-three championship is on May 2 at the Araneta Coliseum.

Bryan Bagunas led the way for NU with 23 points, Fauzi Ismail scored 18 and Kim Malabunga added 10.

The Bulldogs booked their fifth straight appearance in the championship, earning another shot against the Blue Eagles, who beat them in the past two finals.

“Sana maging tulong sa amin ang mahabang break nila (Ateneo) and sana nakatulong sa amin ang game na ito,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin.

“Siguro magiging advantage namin ito kasi tumataas ang level ng laro namin.”

The UAAP Finals schedule was moved from Saturday to May 2 due to the Asean Summit.

It was another tough match for NU, which had a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semis but needed to dig deep to advance.

The Bulldogs were forced to a decider by FEU, winning their first match in the stepladder semis in four.

NU gave 41 points to FEU through errors in the match that lasted two hours and 23 minutes.

Richard Solis scored 15 points for the Tamaraws, while Redijohn Paler added 13, graduating Greg Dolor finished with 13 and Jude Garcia chipped in 10.

Franco Camcam Jr. and Ronchette Villegas also played their final match in the UAAP.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin