Reigning UAAP men’s volleyball champion Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles survived a late third set comeback by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers to earn a straight set victory, 25-21, 25-18, 29-27 in the UAAP Season 78 men’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Sunday morning.
The Blue Eagles quickly blasted the Growling Tigers with an 8-2 lead in the opening set. as the España-based squad struggled to control their errors. Reigning MVP Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan, and Josh Villanueva paced the Blue Eagles’ offense in the latter part of the set to keep the Growling Tigers at bay.
UST resumed playing catch-up in the following set, with Espejo and Villanueva continuing to pour the Growling Tigers’ floor defense with their attacks. Ateneo also got additional help from Rex Intal, to lift the Blue Eagles with a two-sets-to-none lead as the Growling Tigers struggled to create any momentum in the set.
Both teams figured in several deuces in the third set, as Blue Eagle Ron Medalla’s service error tied the game at 20. A service error from Growling Tiger Jomaru Amagan, followed by an ace courtesy of Karl Baysa, gave Ateneo a 22-21 advantage. Ateneo launched a quick run to take match point at 24-22, but a net violation from the Blue Eagles, and a Timothy Tajanlangit block on Espejo, put the game at a deadlock at 24. Both teams exchanged attacks and errors for another deuce at 26 ,with Arnold Bautista drop shot tying the game for the UST cause. An Intal drop shot put Ateneo in the driver’s seat 27-26, but last’s year finals MVP Ish Polvorosa overcooked his serve for a deadlock at 27. Marasigan and Espejo conspired to stop the Growling Tigers’ late comeback.
“It’s the first game of the season so, of course, I expected for there to be jitters,” said Ateneo head coach, Oliver Almadro. “Marami pa kaming adjustment na kailangan gawin but this is just the first game of 14 so we still have time.”
Espejo unloaded 17 markers to lead the Blue Eagles, while Marasigan and Intal contributed 11 points apiece. Polvorosa tossed up 31 excellent sets.
No Growling Tiger reached double figures, with Arnold Bautista leading UST with eight points, all coming from attacks, as they played their first season without explosive hitter Mark Alfafara as he had graduated.
The Blue Eagles will next face the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws on February 7 , 10 AM at the PhilSports Arena, while the Growling Tigers’ next match is against the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons on the following day, 8 AM at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
ADMU(3)- Espejo 17, Intal 11, Marasigan 11, Villanueva 9, Baysa 5, Polvorosa 4, Medalla 4, Rivera 1, Posadas (L), Sumanguid(L)
UST(0)- Bautista 8, Carodan 5, Balse 3, Medina 3, Sarabia 3, Amagan 2, Sumagaysay 2, Castillo 0, Guzman 0, Pangan(L), Francisco (L)
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