In the battle for Katipunan men’s edition, the Ateneo Blue Spikers avenged the Lady Eagle’s loss by sweeping the UP Fighting Maroons in straight sets, 25-9, 27-25, 25-15.
The Maroons struggled mightily during the opening set. They were welcomed by three unforced errors, resulting in a quick 8-1 Ateneo lead. With UP unable to string consecutive points, it was only a matter of time before Ateneo ran away with the set.
While UP woke up in the second set, it seemed like it was Ateneo’s turn to have troubles offensively. Ateneo’s Karl Baysa surrendered an attack error followed by a service error, putting Ateneo at a 1-2 disadvantage. Despite his early mis-hits, Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro kept his faith in his open hitter and kept him in the game. Ateneo received contributions from Rex Intal, Ysay Marasigan, and last year’s MVP Marck Espejo, but their multiple errors kept the Fighting Maroons in the set.
Late in the set, UP’s Alfred Valbuena scored off the block, tying the set at 20. Marasigan countered to give Ateneo the lead, 21-20, but five consecutive errors from both teams led to an Ateneo timeout. Baysa, who had yet to make a positive impression in the set, repaid his coaches trust in him by scoring three straight points for Ateneo to put them at set point before Marasigan ended the set for Ateneo.
The third set was close, but similar to the second set, most of UP’s points came from Ateneo errors. Tied at 11, Ateneo finally scored consecutive points thanks to middle blocker, Josh Villanueva. His quick attack, followed by a block on Alfred Valbuena signaled a 8-3 run that put Ateneo firmly at the driver’s seat. Unable to come up with any offense, UP eventually succumbed to the Blue Spikers’ onslaught.
Despite the error-filled win, coach Oliver was upbeat after the match, stressing that his team’s goal was to gain a twice to beat advantage entering the Final Four.
“Importante to gather as many wins as we can para magkaroon ng twice to beat advantage. Yun naman yung hinahabol eh.”
Ateneo dominated UP offensively, notching 46 attack points to UP’s 22. The Blue Spikers also notched 8 block kills and 6 service aces, while UP had 0 for both categories. The only blemish for Ateneo was their whopping 27 errors compared to UP’s 17.
Ateneo faces NU next on Sunday, 10am at the Filoil Flying V Centre. UP has a match on the same day as they go against UE at 8am.
Ateneo (3) – Marasigan 16, Espejo 15, Villanueva 9, Baysa 8, Intal 6, Medalla 3, Polvorosa 2, Rivera 1, Sumanguid L.
UP (0) – Valbuena 7, Miguel 5, Millete 4, Consuelo 3, Raymundo 2, Acuna 1, Luna L, Nasol L.