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Bulldogs close out Golden Spikers to complete 4-peat

MANILA, Philippines -- For the fourth straight season, the National University Bulldogs reigned supreme in the UAAP men's volleyball tournament.

The Bulldogs secured the four-peat after holding off the gallant University of Santo Tomas Golden Spikers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-15, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Buds Buddin carried the offensive load for the Sampaloc-based squad with 28 points off 22 attacks, five blocks and a service ace.

Leo Aringo chipped in 22, while graduating captain Nico Almendras added 20.
But in the middle of the explosive scoring was the steady playmaking of Owa Retamar, who had 26 excellent sets.

Retamar was named the Finals Most Valuable Player in his UAAP swan song.

After staying alive with a crucial third-set win, UST went toe-to-toe early on in the fourth set, trailing by just three, 9-12, following a Jay Rack de la Noche block.

But NU would wax hot, pulling away with a 7-2 run to go up, 19-11, capped by a service ace by Rwenzmel Taguibolos.

Back-to-back points by the Golden Spikers kept them in the game, but Buddin had consecutive markers to help the Bulldogs go up by 10, 12-22.

This was enough separation as the mighty champions had answers to every attempt by UST.

A kill by Almendras ended his collegiate career -- and the Bulldogs' season -- on a high note.

"Siyempre, sobrang saya kasi bago kami umexit ni Owa, maganda yung iniwan namin sa NU and siyempre yung trinain namin, lumabas naman. Sobrang saya, wala akong masabi," Almendras told reporters after the game.

For his part, Retamar said that he is excited for the next seasons of NU, as he underscored that their most recent championship will be important in the years to come.

"Nakaka-proud yung team namin. Nung last team meeting namin, sinabi ko sa kanila, pag mag-champiom tayo ngayon, magtutuloy-tuloy yan kasi madadala niyo yung pride and momentum ng pagiging champion kaya natutuwa ako and nae-excite ako sa next na team," the setter said.

Josh Ybañez, who was named the season MVP earlier in the day, led the Golden Spikers with 24 points. Gboy de Vega added 15.

The Bulldogs recorded 16 blocks compared to UST's three. They also notched 66 attacks against their