With their historic core still intact, the Ateneo Blue Eagles shrugged-off their feisty rivals, DLSU Spikers in four sets, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 in the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.
The reigning UAAP champs relied heavily on their players that recently dawned the country’s colors in recently concluded international competitions. Team captain, Ysay Marasigan dished out 19 points, two-time UAAP MVP Marck Espejo chalked up 16 markers while middle blocker Josh Villanueva was handed the Player of the Game honors, finishing with 15 points. Par for the Ateneo voleyball program, the Blue Eagles dominated offensively, recording 58 attacks, 12 blocks, and six aces at the cost of 30 errors.
Ateneo head coach, Oliver Almadro emphasized that despite the win, his team is still nowhere near peak condition. “We’re at about 60-70% [of where I want to be for the Spikers’ Turf]. Most of the players galing sa vacation. Though may mga players na naglaro sa SEA Games, iba pa rin kapag dala mo ‘yung sarili mong team. We’re just working on getting everyone on the same page and integrating our new players.”
Amongst Ateneo’s new additions, former UAAP Junior’s MVP, Ron Medalla hopped off the bench midway through the second set and scored four points while also showing promise in his fleet-footed movement in the backrow. His UE teammate, Libero, Manuel Sumanguid III started and finished the match and had minimal problems with his ball control. Fil-Am recruit, Tony Koyfman made his debut in televised competition and scored four points. According to coach Almadro, Koyfman is still ineligible to play for UAAP 78 but should be available on Season 79.
The DLSU side battled hard early in each of the sets but lost composure and awareness on floor defense once things got tight late. After sitting out the last UAAP season due to a torn ACL, Raymark Woo made an impactful return to competition scoring 15 points and still sporting the athleticism that made him an immense threat from anywhere on the court. Sophomore Arjay Onia, led the La Sallians with 19 markers while Geriant Bell added nine points.
Ateneo looks to keep piling on the wins when they face DLSU-Dasmariñas on Monday, July 20. Both winless, DLSU and Arellano squares off for their first victory on Thursday, July 22.
ADMU (3) – Marasigan 19, Espejo 16, Villanueva 15, Intal 8, Polvorosa 6, Medalla 4, Koyfman 4, Rivera 2, Baysa 1, Magadia 0, Sumanguid (L)
DLSU (1) – Onia 19, Woo 15, Dumago 9, Calasin 5, Bacon 2, Asia G. 2, Marco 0, Frey 0, Dimayuga 0, Asia R. (L), Movido (L)