Coming from their first-ever loss in the Premier Volleyball League, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles secured their third straight Finals trip, outlasting the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers, 22-25, 25-22, 31-29, 25-13, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Standing in the way of Blue Eagles’ third consecutive title are the Far Easteren University Tamaraws, in a best-of-three series that begins on Wednesday.
According to head coach Oliver Almadro, the Blue Eagles are most wary of their habit for slow starts, which was apparent in their game against UST.
“We really have to work on how we start our matches. Our opponents have been preparing very well for us and we need to respond better especially at the start of matches,” said Almadro, who has led the Blue Eagles to four UAAP titles.
After losing the first set, the Blue Eagles slammed the Tigers in the second set. Ateneo then sprinted to a 24-20 lead in the third frame, before UST made a late run. Ateneo surrendered two errors en route to a prolonged deuce. The Blue Eagles eventually took the set after UST gave up their own attack errors.
By the fourth set, the Blue Eagles had the Tigers gassed and waltzed to the win.
“Our players showed their resiliency in today’s game. Mahirap talaga to recover from the loss, regardless of who we were missing,” said Almadro.
Marck Espejo, who missed Game Two due to the UAAP Beach Volleyball tournament, strutted his MVP form with 23 points to lead the Blue Eagles.
Transferee from University of the East Joshua Umandal towed UST with 20 points. The Tigers matched Ateneo’s offensive production, but coughed up 39 errors to the Blue Eagles’ 27.
ADMU (3) – Espejo 23, Glorioso 11, Rivera 10, Medalla 8, Njigha 8, Baysa 2, Polvorosa 2, Tan 0, Trinidad 0, Sumanguid (L)
UST (1) – Umandal 20, Medina 12, Cardon 8, Bautista 7, Buro 6, Sumagaysay 5, Tajanlangit 4, Casillan 0, Valenzuela 0, Sawal (L)