After ceding the title for a single season, National University Nazareth School reclaimed the University Athletic Association of the Philippines High School Boys’ Volleyball title on Monday.
The Bullpups denied the University of the East Junior Red Warriors in four thrilling sets, 20-25, 25-16, 27-25, 25-21, to take the winner-take-all Game 3 of the Finals at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
This is the school’s fifth title in the event and its first for the season.
“One of the sweetest moments we’ve been encountered this season. We just bounced back after losing Game 2 by doing all the adjustments,” Bullpups head coach Edgar Barroga said as NUNS won Game 1, 39-37, 26-24, 22-25, 25-21, before bowing in a Game 2 marathon, 18-25, 17-25, 27-25, 26-24, 15-11.
Gaining huge momentum for that third-set grind out, NUNS used a two-point swing from Season Best Middle Blocker Miguel Egger to take the lead at 20-19.
Lance Babon reeled UE into a comeback, but Matthew Abut and eventually Karl Lascuña proved equal to the fight and sealed the victory for the Bullpups.
NUNS had to put up its fightback this time as it handed UE the set advantage.
Putting in surprising starters in Yuan Mendoza and Kasim backfired as it was the Junior Red Warriors that powered through the 21-18 advantage with captain Jan Macam leading the way.
From there, the Bullpups went to their usual six on the floor as Lascuña and middle blockers Egger and Dave Lardizabal eventually made it count.
Down a set point at 23-24 in the third, NUNS setter and eventual Finals MVP Jeffe Gallego Jr. found a red-hot Lardizabal who scored the three points that sealed the 2-1 cushion and set up the clincher.
Eight of the current members of the Bullpups played their last high school game, including playmaker Gallego, libero Sherwin Retiro, and Kobe Aca-ac.
“Thankful to coach Edgar for the trust and confidence. I encouraged my teammates not to lose hope since our coach never lose his hope with us,” the graduating setter Gallego said.