UAAP: Green Spikers concede defeat in five-set thriller to Bulldogs, enter semifinals at third seed

The DLSU Green Spikers dropped to the third seed as they enter the semifinals of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Volleyball Tournament after letting go of a five-set nail-biter to defending champions NU Bulldogs, 25-19, 21-25, 13-25, 25-21, 14-16, and snapping their six-game winning streak earlier today, May 4, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

In their brave loss, Noel Kampton led the green pack by notching 22 points off 19 attacks, two blocks, and an ace. Once again, he was supported by his two teammates of the offensive trifecta as Team Captain JM Ronquillo chalked up 20 points while Vince Maglinao contributed 19 markers.

At the Bulldogs’ camp, Michaelo Buddin made the loudest howl as he brought out a career-high of 32 points from 29 attacks and three kill blocks. He was assisted by Nicolas Almendras’ 15 markers and Jenngerard Diao’s 11 points in their revenge victory over the Green Spikers.

Hounding the pack

The DLSU Green Spikers fought hard to gain an early advantage through Kampton’s scoring of back-to-back attack points in the initial part of the set, 2-0. Maintaining the dominant outing, Eco Adajar activated his wing spikers, chalking up various effective ways to score from blocks to spikes, 12-8.

On the other side of the court, the feisty Bulldogs were plagued with unforced errors, minimizing their opportunity to overtake the Green Spikers’ big lead, 17-11. Kampton then gave NU a taste of their own medicine as he scored an attack from penetrating the Bulldogs’ block, 22-18. Maglinao then sealed the deal with back-to-back points to close the first set dominantly, 25-19. 

Feisty fangs

After a steady first set embellished with block-evading plays and minimal errors, the following set saw the Spikers get shot in their Achilles heel of offensive and service errors. Despite excellent initial offense from both squads, the Green-and-White suddenly tripped with three attack errors to quickly spark a 4-0 run for the Bulldogs, 9-5. As Team Captain Ronquillo and Kampton played seemingly shakily throughout the set, Maglinao provided reliable support after converting a shaky reception from the back row but still continued to trail behind by five, 13-8.

King Bulldog Buddin, who shrugged off a silent opening set, suddenly showed out with several deafening over-the-blocker skills that earned him his career-best performance. However, La Salle persisted in striving back as two block-shattering bombs from a reignited Kampton sprung the Green Spikers to a 5-0 run to slash the lead from seven down to only two, 19-17. But errors once again denied the Spikers a glorious comeback as Buddin continued to silence them with his undefended daggers to give the set to the defending champions, 25-21.

Losing stability

With both teams now one set apiece, the Green Spikers hoped to bounce back from the previous set loss. Unable to establish their footing, the Green Spikers lacked opportunities to score, with Diao blocking La Salle’s reliable attacker Maglinao, 4-2. Seemingly rattled by the other team’s scoring, Kampton took matters into his own hands as he drilled the crosscourt attack, 11-8.

Despite attempts to catch up, the men in green were often seen scrambling in defense as NU took advantage of La Salle’s menial coverage. Despite numerous substitutions, no Green Spiker could stabilize the team’s scoring, relying on the errors of the opponent to gain an advantage, 20-13. The DLSU Green Spikers succumbed to the NU Bulldogs’ commanding 5-0 run, ending the third set with the Green-and-White down by 12, 25-13.

Denied the dogs

After a frustratingly error-filled third set for the Spikers, the more stable defense was a stepping stone to a rubber-forcing fourth set where they unwaveringly held the lead. Middle blockers Nat Del Pilar and Billie Anima made their presence known as they brought quick attacks to boost an early three-point cushion for La Salle, 6-3. After a flawless third set, the Bulldogs started giving out free points off service and attack errors that halted their momentum as they stayed behind within a four-point gutter.

But Buddin remained a thorn for the Spikers as he surged with a near-Zone Two down-the-line and thunderous off-the-block to allow the Sampaloc-based squad a 3-0 run to force La Salle to call for timeout as their gap was down to one, 19-18. However, La Salle quickly shook off the Bulldogs’ scare as a classic crosscourt explosion from Kampton, followed by two straight blocks by Del Pilar and setter Adajar, plunged the match to a deciding fifth set, 25-21.

Wretched loss

Fueled by the opportunity to close the match in five sets, the Green Spikers were able to open the set with a 3-0 run courtesy of Ronquillo stepping up with significant block points. The deadlocks began to set in as both teams refused to back down, 5-all. Ronquillo’s crosscourt attack gave La Salle a necessary two-point cushion, 8-6. 

The Green Spikers could not maintain the lead as they began to lose their momentum, allowing NU to send the set to its second deadlock, 9-all. Unable to build steady momentum, Maglinao scored a down-the-line attack to save the Green Spikers from the dreaded match point, 14-all. Despite their best efforts, lady luck was not on La Salle’s side as NU’s Buddin closed the match in favor of the Bulldogs, 16-14.

Following this crucial loss for the second seed, the DLSU Green Spikers will fight to bounce back as they meet the NU Bulldogs again in the semifinals. The scheduled match is yet to be announced by the UAAP.

The Scores:

DLSU 2 – Kampton, 22, Ronquillo 20, Maglinao 19, Anima 4, Del Pilar 3, Adajar 1, Gloria 1, Guerrero 0, Mendoza 0, Poquita 0, De Jesus 0, De Castro 0

NU 3 – Buddin 32, Almendras 15, Diao 11, Aringo 9, Retamar 6, Taguibolos 5, Abanilla 0, Sumagui 0, Belostrino 0, Gapultos 0, 

Set Scores: 25-19, 21-25, 13-25, 25-21, 14-16

John Rei Salanga

By John Rei Salanga

Samantha Vidal

By Samantha Vidal

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