The Ateneo De Manila Blue Spikers notched their eight consecutive win of the season while also booking a seat to the final four games in the UAAP Men’s Volleyball tournament with a 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 win over the UP Fighting Maroons held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Easily the hottest team in the league right now, Ateneo became the first team to reach nine wins and first to seal the semifinal slot. In addition, just like their first meeting against UP, The Blue Spikers also swept the Maroons.
The Maroons started on point as they built a five point lead early at 14-10. Combination plays worked for UP as they also forced Ateneo to multiple errors early to help them give the lead. Entering the second technical timeout of the opening frame, the Blue Spikers were still trailing by four as UP’s defense made the scoring slowly for Ateneo’s spikers.
From that point, Ateneo uncorked an 7-2 counter to tie the game at 19 as the Blue Spikers compiled a lot of free points from net jousts and UP errors. Looking sharper compared to their start, the Katipunan-based spikers closed out the opening set by outscoring UP 6-1 to give them the first set win up by three.
Contrary to their start in the opening set, Ateneo and UP made it a close start in the second set as both teams exchanged several reception errors that made it tight. Mark Espejo started to pile up the points in the latter part of the set to suddenly give Ateneo a comfortable margin at 21-16. Ishmael Marasigan also started to deny the UP spikers with his net defense in full display in the second set late.
Ateneo pulled away in the third frame as they established an early lead in the third set and were poised in taking care of business early. Despite rotation errors from Ateneo late and UP making small scoring bursts, the Blue Spikers defense stood tall to seal the deal late.
The win improved Ateneo’s record to 9-3 while UP dropped to 4-7. Ateneo looks for its double-digit winning streak against FEU on Feb. 14, 8am at the Filoil Arena in San Juan while UP seeks to bounce back against Adamson on Feb. 15, also at Filoil.
Espejo 21, Marasigan 11, Rivera 10, Villanueva 7, Intal 4, Senoren 2, Polvorosa 1, Santos 0, Baysa 0, Tan 0, Bello 0, Rivera(L) 0
Miguel 8, Dela Paz 7, Cabatingan 4, Raymundo 4, Valbuena 4, Abuda 4, Hernandez 0, Nicandro(L) 0