Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

Ateneo powers past Mojica’s 41, EAC in battle of collegiate champs



Sporting a taller and more balanced lineup, the defending UAAP champs, Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles escaped Howard Mojica and the reigning NCAA champs Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals in four sets 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23 in the Spiker’s Turf Collegiate Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

NCAA MVP, Howard Mojica willed his Generals throughout the match. The former PLDT Ultra Fast Hitter amassed a tournament-high 41 points but was the only General in double-digjts. UAAP MVP, Marck Espejo fired-off a season high 25 points and pivoted his team to the advantage every time he went to the service area. Espejo, however, was not the only Eagle who performed valiantly for their team. Ateneo slowly wore down Mojica with triple blocks and varied their offense. Ateneo’s middle blockers, Josh Villanueva and Rex Intal turned-in double-digit performances with 11 and 10 points respectively while team captain Ysay Marasigan shrugged off a slow start and gathered 12 markers.

“We needed this game for this season because most of our previous games [mabilis natapos]. Now, the team knows that every team is preparing for us since we are the UAAP champions. That’s why I’m telling my players to be consistent and to always do good. Kahit nagkamali ang kalaban, kailangan gumawa pa rin kami ng tama. We have to always be prepared, that’s the key,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro whose team once again blew off a massive error tally – 36 after giving up 38 in their win against FEU. Almadro also mentioned that his libero, Manuel Sumanguid played through a groin injury which hampered his floor defense and coverage early in the match.

A late Marck Espejo run from the service area allowed the Blue Eagles to breakaway from a 19-all tie to a 22-19 lead in the opening set. The boys from Loyola closed the set out handily but failed to carry over their momentum into the second frame. Five early points from Mojica propelled EAC to a 6-1 lead that the Blue Eagles whittled down to two, 8-6, off Espejo and Marasigan attacks. Ateneo’s errors and kills from Melliza and Mojica, however, pushed the EAC advantage back to six, 15-9. Espejo, again, sparked a rally with his powerful jump serving later in the set as he managed to trim the EAC lead down to two, 20-18, with three consecutive aces. To end the set, Mojica retaliated with three thundering smashes from the back row sandwiched between Ateneo errors that gave EAC its only won set of the match.

The Eagles then claimed the following sets by the slimmest of margins. In the third set, it took another successful Espejo service line forray to swing momentum in Ateneo’s favor. Trailing 14-17, Espejo’s serves afforded the Blue Eagles multiple free balls that they easily converted, vaulting them into the lead, 18-17. Mojica valiantly kept his team in the match as his cut shot placed them ahead, 20-19. Frustrated by EAC’s blocking in the previous set, Ysay Marasigan led an Ateneo charge that gave them a cushy 22-20 advantage. The Blue Eagles traded points with EAC at every sideout chance and ended the set with a classic Marck Espejo service ace-service error-back row smash sequence.

Ateneo faced a rowdy push from the Generals in the fourth stanza but managed to quell the Generals’ spirit by keeping EAC’s already shorter blockers on their toes with scattered combination and quick plays. Ateneo finally pulled away with an Esepjo kill giving them match point at 24-22. They bearly blew it with a rotation error in the following play but Marasigan capped the match with an open hit over a single blocker.

Mojica’s 41 markers came after he fired off 35 points in a five-set loss against the CSB Blazers. The Generals fall to a 2-3 slate and will need to win their last two meetings in order to have a shot at qualify for the Final Four.

Ateneo is still undefeated in seven meetings and have carry-over record of 5-0 . They will face the NCBA Wildcats next on Monday, August 24.

The Scores

ADMU (3) – Espejo 25, Marasigan 12, Villanueva 11, Intal 10, Rivera 5, Medalla 2, Polvorosa 2, Baysa 1, Sumaguid (L), Posadas (L)

EAC (1) – Mojica 41, Melliza 7, Arias 3, Doguna 3, Encina 2, Cilocilo 0, Mangaring (L), Gorospe (L)


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.

Click to comment