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Espejo bombs 35 to lift Ateneo against La Salle

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In what was expected to be an easy assignment for the defending champions Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles turned out to be a tough challenge as they survived the feisty De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Spikers 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-10 to get themselves back in the winning track in the UAAP Season 78 men’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Sunday Morning.

Motivated to bounce back from a five set loss against the Adamson Univeristy (AdU) Soaring Falcons last Wednesday, the Blue Eagles shrugged off the errors they committed in the opening set behind the offensive onslaught of reigning MVP Marck Espejo and his teammate, Ysay Marasigan to counter the duo of Raymark Woo and Arjay Onia to give the Blue Eagles a 22-16 lead. Onia and Cris Dumago saved several points to cut the lead at 24-21 but Wayne Marco committed a service error to award the set for Ateneo.

Both teams figured out in several deuces in the following set as they exchanged attacks and errors all throughout with a crosscourt attack from Onia give La Salle a slim 21-20 lead; Josh Villanueva unloaded a quick hit to tie things at 21. Dumago and Espejo exchanged attacks to put things at 23. A quick hit from Woo and a block from Geuel Asia on Marasigan gave La Salle set point, 24-22. A service error from Dumago gifted a point to Ateneo at 24-23 but Woo unleashed a crosscourt attack to get the set for La Salle.

With momentum to battle the defending champions in the third set, both teams once again figured at a 20-all tie. A kill from Woo gave La Salle a 21-20 advantage; a service error from Dumago tied things at 21 but Onia and Ralph Calasin delivered crucial points for La Salle for a 24-22 lead. A service error from Blue Eagle Dan Posadas handed La Salle a 2-1 set lead.

Espejo carried the Blue Eagles in the fourth set with his explosive hits to give Ateneo a 23-17 lead to create separation against the fiery Green Spikers who relied on Woo and Onia to battle the offensive fire power of the Blue Eagles. Late errors by Ateneo gave La Salle a slim of chance to force a comeback but Villanueva unloaded a quick hit to extend the match in favor of Ateneo.

In the deciding set, Espejo quickly barrelled the La Salle floor defense with his powerful spikes for a comfortable 10-3 lead. Still, Woo, Onia and Ralph Calasin joined forces to salvaged the match and cut the lead at 12-9. Ron Medalla and Marasigan delivered for the Blue Eagles in crucial times to finally take the game away from their Taft counterpart.

“Good thing kapag end game we are able to maximize our players. Their steadiness of will also helped us kasi kapag hindi steady ang will mo sa laro, lalaro lang sila nang lalaro nang walang purpsose,” a relieved Blue Eagles head coach Oliver Almadro said.

Espejo dropped 35 points to lead the Blue Eagles while Marasigan chipped 13 markers and Ish Polvorosa tossed 29 excellent sets.
Woo bounce back from his dismal performance in their loss against National University Bulldogs with 19 points together with three digs while Onia contributed 19 markers for La Salle.

The Blue Eagles will next face the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on February 21 at 8:00 AM while the Green Spikers will also face the Fighting Maroons on February 17, 8:00 AM at the same venue.

The Scores:

ADMU(3) – Espejo 35, Marasigan 13, Baysa 8, Intal 7, Villanueva 6, Polvorosa 4, Medalla 1, Rivera 0, Magadia 0, Sumanguid (L)

DLSU (2) – Woo 24, Onia 19, Dumago 8, Calasin 5, Jose 5, Bacon 4, Asia 3, Frey 1, Maravilla 0, Marco 0, Movido (L)

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