Bulldogs advance by taming previously unbeaten Wildcats
Kim Malabunga was among the many bright spots for National University in its three-sets win over NCBA. Dante Peralta

NATIONAL University scored an easy 25-16, 25-14, 25-23 win over previously undefeated National College of Business and Arts to advance in the next round of the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Wednesday.

It was the third straight win for the Bulldogs, who made the quarterfinals as they kept their unbeaten slate to join Emilio Aguinaldo College (3-0) at the top spot of Group A.

NU appeared headed of finally ending it when it led 21-13, before NCBA made a fight out of it by putting together an 8-2 run to inch closer at 21-23 before saving match point, 23-24.

But an error by the Wildcats handily gave the Bulldogs the win.

“Binigyan kasi namin ng chance ‘yung mga bench players naming. Ok lang kahit hindi sila nakapag-deliver, basta nagkaroon sila ng chance na makapasok sa court,” said NU assistant coach Jessie Lopez, who ably filled in for head coach Dante Alinsunurin.

The NU head coach, out for a week to do basic military training with the Philippine Air Force, instructed his deputy to just apply what the team prepared for in practice especially on the defensive end.

“Ang bilin niya i-apply lang namin ang pina-practice namin sa training everyday and naging maganda naman ang results,” said Lopez.

“Kailangan ma-dominate namin ang taas. Lagi ko nire-remind sa mga middle blockers namin na walang lulusot na bola,” he added as the Bulldogs had 10 blocks compared to the three of the Wildcats.

Incoming sophomores Francis Saura, Bryan Bagunas and Kim Malabunga combined for 31 points for the Bulldogs.

Saura also delivered three of the team’s nine service aces as the Bulldogs registered more excellent reception (16-12).

“Kargada ang mga services namin, nakaka service ace pa kami, tapos ‘di pa sila maka-receive kaya 90 percent possible na hindi ka makakapuntos. Ilang combination plays lang ba ang nagawa nila kasi wala silang receive,” said Lopez.

Paul John Domingo and Daryl Valenzuela had six points for NCBA, which dropped to a 2-1 card for third spot in Group A.

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