National University-Nazareth School and Far Eastern University-Diliman will square off in the Finals for the second straight year after beating separate foes in UAAP season 82 boys’ volleyball do-or-die semifinals Wednesday at Paco Arena.
The back-to-back title-seeking Bullpups outlasted second seed University of the East in a classic five-setter, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23, 11-25, 17-15, while the Baby Tamaraws finished off University of Santo Tomas, 25-22, 25-20, 29-27.
NU and FEU open their best-of-three title series at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Michaelo Buddin produced 26 points while Arvin Bandola chipped in 25 markers on 18 spikes, four service aces and three blocks for the Bullpups.
“Nag payoff lahat ng pinaghirapan namin at the same time pinilit kong macompose yung attitude ng mga bata kasi nung fourth set, bumigay sila eh. Kahit na lumamang yung kalaban, sabi ko walang sisihan, dapat iangat ang kasama,” said NU coach Edgar Barroga.
Knotted at 15 in the deciding frame, Junior Warriors opposite spiker Joshua Espenida’s crosscourt attack went wide before Buddin gave the final blow on an off the block kill to clinch the win for the Bullpups.
UE ended the fourth set on a blistering 12-1 blast, capped by three consecutive attacks by Espenida to extend the match.
Espenida scored 22 points while captain Francis Babon unloaded 19 markers and 16 digs for the Junior Warriors, who lost in four sets in last Sunday’s Final Four opener.
The top-ranked Baby Tamaraws made sure that their hard-earned twice-to-beat advantage won’t go down the drain.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, kung sino ang matapang dito at buo ang loob, yun ang mananalo. Kaya inadjust namin yung service-receive namin at yung block,” said FEU mentor Rjhay Del Rosario.
Tied at 27 in the third frame, France Racaza hammered a crosscourt kill before Rans Cajolo turned back Tiger Cubs captain Rey De Vega’s down-the-line attempt to send the Baby Tamaraws back in the Finals.
Racaza scored all but one of his 13 points coming off spikes alongside 11 digs, Cajolo poured in 11 markers, while Jerold Talisayan contributed 10 points off two blocks and two service aces for FEU.
Rookie Jay Rack Dela Noche topscored for UST with 12 points, while CJ Segui added 11 markers as top gun De Vega was limited to eight points.