The DLSU Green Spikers dropped their first-round matchup against the NU Bulldogs in three sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-16, earlier today, March 22, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
In a losing effort, JM Ronquillo topped the scoring for the Green Spikers with 17 points off 16 attacks and one block, while team captain Vince Maglinao chipped in seven points.
Meanwhile, Buds Buddin spearheaded the NU Bulldogs’ win with an all-around performance built on 19 points from 14 attacks, three blocks, and two serves, to go with 12 excellent receives. Kennry Malinis complemented the double-double output of Buddin with 16 points from 14 attacks and two blocks.
Looking to topple the juggernaut of the standings, the Green Spikers started the set by playing excellent floor defense that eventually led to an NU net touch violation, giving DLSU first blood. Long rallies ensued, preceding well-placed hits from Noel Kampton and Ronquillo gave DLSU the lead, 4-3. Not to be outdone, Malinis and Joshua Retamar used their power to tie the set, 5-all. A block from setter Paul Serrano and a thundering attack from Kampton saw La Salle take the lead, 8-6.
Exiting the first technical timeout, NU’s Malinis used a zone one hit to cut into the lead, 9-7. Attacking woes soon began to haunt the Taft-based squad, as several overcooked attacks from Kampton forced the match into a deadlock, 10-all. The Sampaloc-based squad then began a string of alternating points from Obed Mukaba, Louis Lamanlan, and Malinis, interwoven with net touch violations and service errors, that kept the game deadlocked at 15-all. But Malinis soon took control as a sharp cross-court attack gave NU the lead entering the second technical timeout, 16-15.
With both sides trying to grab control of the set, Maglinao and Ronquillo dueled with Malinis to keep the score tied at 20-all. Failing to grab momentum off numerous NU errors, La Salle soon fell victim to a five-point run as attacks from Malinis and Almendras sandwiched crucial errors from Kampton and Billie Anima. DLSU eventually conceded the opener to the Bulldogs, 25-21.
Almost but not quite
Coming off a closely contested first set, the Green Spikers managed to sustain their offensive rhythm into the opening part of the second frame. Both teams went on a scoring showdown that saw the game tied at 4-all. However, an Almendras cross-court kill, along with two straight unforced errors from the Green and White, led to a quick run for the Bulldogs that prompted DLSU Head Coach Arnold Laniog to call for time. Both teams then went on to trade service errors, giving NU a three-point lead coming into the first technical timeout of the second set, 8-5.
Off the break, the Green Spikers managed to cut the deficit down to one after two straight points from an NU error and an off-the-block hit by Ronquillo was made, 8-7. The Bulldogs countered with a 3-0 scoring parade of their own, courtesy of a spike, a block from Almendras, and a double contact violation for La Salle, 11-7. Despite trading markers one after the other, the Green Spikers were unable to make a run until the scoreboard flashed 20-14.
Looking for an opportunity to catch up to the Bulldogs, the Green Spikers turned to the tandem of Ronquillo and Kampton to deliver. The duo did not disappoint as they successfully converted three straight attack points, forcing NU to call for time as the lead was back down to three, 20-17. NU responded to the challenge posed by the Green Spikers, matching their attack points until they eventually closed out the set at 25-21 after a quick attack by Mukaba.
Playing with confidence, the Bulldogs opened the third set with a thunderous attack from Almendras, 1-0. The Green and White kept their composure as they relied on their disciplined floor defense to keep the score close, but the Bulldogs took control of the tempo as they leaned on hits from Malinis and Almendras to give their squad the lead, 8-6.
Arnold Laniog’s side came out of the timeout looking to regain the lead as they leaned on Maglinao and Ronquillo’s attacking to gain an 11-10 advantage. The team in blue did not back down, however, charging back with a four-point run led by hitter Buddin, 14-11. Looking to bring life to his team, Ronquillo blasted a booming hit toward NU’s back row to stop the bleeding 12-14. Mukaba’s towering presence was too much to handle as he scored at will giving his squad a 19-13 advantage.
Going for the kill, Dante Alinsunurin’s NU squad stuck to their guns as they turned their spectacular floor defense into instant offense for hitters Malinis and Buddin and brought their squad to a commanding lead, 23-15. Adding salt to the wounds of the Taft-based squad, Almendras sunk a service ace to give the Bulldogs set point, 24-15. Ronquillo was not going to surrender as he placed a shot at the backline, stopping the run, 24-16. Unfortunately, his efforts were for naught, as Buddin put the finishing touches to the Sampaloc-based squad’s first-round dominance, ending the game, 25-16.
Despite this heartbreaking loss, the DLSU Green Spikers hold the fourth seed on the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Volleyball standings with a 4-3 win-loss record.
DLSU 0 – Ronquillo 17, Maglinao 7, Kampton 4, Anima 4, Del Pilar 4, Serrano 3, De Jesus 1
NU 3 – Buddin 19, Malinis 16, Almendras 9, Mukaba 7, Retamar 4, Diao 4
Set Scores: 25-21, 25-21, 25-16