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Ateneo blanks National U in UAAP Finals rematch

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The Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference’s most hyped match turned out as just another testament to the dominance of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles as the reigning UAAP champions soundly defeated their rivals National University (NU) Bulldogs 25-16, 25-20, 25-17 in a rematch of UAAP Season 77’s Men’s Volleyball Finals at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

The Blue Eagles have barely faced any resistance in the tournament, winning all their matches in four sets or less. Against a new-look Bulldogs squad, Ateneo head coach, Oliver Almadro continued to shuffle his lineups every set and everyone on his team delivered as planned.

“I’m very happy that everyone delivered today,” said Almadro after the game. “I’m trying to get everyone on the same page and prepared for whoever we face,” added Almadro who started the match with Tony Koyfman, Karl Baysa, and Timmy Sto. Tomas – a trio who rarely saw minutes in previous matches but were pivotal in today’s game.

In what has become the norm for the Blue Eagles, reigning UAAP MVP Marck Jesus Espejo delivered a team-high 12 points off 12 for 21 attacking. A slew of Blue Eagles followed with solid performances spearheaded by Rex Intal’s eight point effort and Koyfman’s six points. Josh Villanueva and Ysay Marasigan each added five points for Ateneo who has won all of their nine meetings.

The Bulldogs’ floor defense and overall ball control were horrendous the entire match. It also didn’t help that they kept surrendering service errors every time they were about to build momentum. NU finished the match with 28 errors to Ateneo’s 17. Sophomore skipper, Bryan Bagunas was the only Bulldog in double-digits with 14 markers with Fauzi Ismail and Francis Saura each managing eight points.

With a 7-0 carry over record, Ateneo claimed the top spot heading into the Spikers’ Turf Final Four where the top seed will take on the fourth seeded team in a best-of-three series. Ending the quarters with a 6-1 slate, secon-seeded National U will face the third seed also in a best-of-three.

Both Ateneo’s and NU’s foes are yet to be determined as Wednesday’s EAC-DLSU and NCBA-UP tilts will determine who qualifies for the final two spots in the Top Four.

The Scores:
Ateneo (3) – Espejo 12, Intal 8, Koyfman 6, Marasigan 5, Villanueva 5, Baysa 4, Polvorosa 3, Rivera 2, Sto Tomas 2, Sumanguid (L)
NU (0) – Bagunas 14, Ismail 8, Saura 8, Malabunga 4, Gampong 1, Natividad 1, Mangulabnan 0, Baysac 0, Dayandante 0, Marcos (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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