NATIONAL University turned what was expected as a tight battle into an easy win after sweeping Ateneo, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23, in Game One of the best-of-three Finals series in the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Bryan Bagunas, James Natividad and Madzlan Gampong led NU, which moved a win closer to ending a three-year title drought.
Bagunas was impressive on both offense and defense with 19 points and 16 excellent receptions, while Natividad had 17 markers and Gampong scored 11, including five blocks.
“Sobrang saya kasi 'yung mga paghihirap namin may pagbubunga,” said Bagunas. “’Yung mga sacrifices namin at hindi namin pag-uwi, ‘yung hindi namin makasama 'yung family namin, may pagbubunga kaya sobrang saya.”
“Andito na po kami, kailangan naming kunin ito eh,” said Gampong. “Ito na ang pagkakataon namin ulit, para hindi masayang. Pag masayang ito, mahirap na, next year na naman ulit.”
The Bulldogs, who scored their first win in the Finals since Season 76, toughened up on defense with 13 blocks compared to seven of the Blue Eagles.
Ateneo top hitter Marck Espejo, who averaged 46 points in the semifinals, was limited to just 16 points, while Ron Medalla had 11.
Game Two is on Wednesday.