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Bulldogs in UAAP volleyball finals

Blue Eagles await in best-of-3 series.

National University displayed poise under pressure when it mattered most as it downed Far Eastern University, 20-25, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21, 15-12, and advanced to the finals of UAAP men’s volleyball yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail powered the Bulldogs’ comeback from a 14-8 deficit in the fourth set to force a decider.

NU squandered an 11-7 advantage in the fifth frame as FEU fought back.

But the Bulldogs were not to be denied as they displayed the kind of experience of having played through heavy pressure to close out the match that lasted two hour and 23 minutes.

The win arranged a fourth straight championship meeting against unbeaten defending champion Ateneo.

The top seeded Blue Eagles went undefeated in the elimination round, and their unbeaten record of 28 games dates back from last year, making the best-of-three series with the No. 2 Bulldogs a nerve-wrecking one starting Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Yung FEU, may kasamang suwerte. Sabi namin, kung ano ang mangyari ibigay na lang natin,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin.

Bagunas finished with 23 points, including three service aces and two blocks, plus eight excellent receptions and five digs to lead the Bulldogs, while Ismail added 18 hits, including two service aces, and nine excellent receptions for NU.

Against the Eagles, led by three-time MVP Marck Espejo, Bagunas said they are ready to battle the squad, hoping that they avenge the two finals defeats in the last two years.

“Lalaban ang team ngayon. Nandoon yung tiwala sa isa’t isa,” said Bagunas.

As for FEU, it was a painful setback as the Tamaraws missed an opportunity following two impressive games where they avoided elimination in the do-or-die step-ladder semifinals matches – beating UST first and prevailing over twice-to-beat NU in their first meeting.