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Men’s Beach Volleyball Day 5: Eagles continue to make school history; Tigers climb the ladder

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Just as they have in the indoor tournament, the Ateneo Blue Eagles made history in Day 5 of the UAAP Beach Volleyball Tournament, not only making the Final Four for the first time in their program’s history but sweeping the tournament and making everyone else in the Final Four climb a stepladder to get to them in the Finals. The UST Tigers also had a tremendous day, nearly falling off but getting back up in emphatic fashion.

Coming into the game with a 6-0 record, Ateneo’s Ysay Marasigan and Marck Espejo needed just one win to make the Finals. Facing UE’s winless pair of Edward Camposano and Geric Ortega, the Eagles waltzed to the championship series with a thrice-to-beat advantage, winning 21-6, 21-15. Espejo and Marasigan, as they have the entire tourney, used their power and height to thrash the Warriors, who were inexperienced on the sand.

Ateneo’s win also reformatted the Final Four to a stepladder. The first rung of was determined after NU’s rookie pair Bryan Bagunas and Madzlan Gampong beat out UST’s Kris Roy Guzman and Anthony Arbasto for the second seed and a twice-to-beat advantage. It turned out to be their first match of a gauntlet, 24-26, 25-23, 15-12. Neither team led by more than three points throughout the match, as sets came down to who could make the clutch plays. Despite a few controversial calls, NU made enough big plays to squeak past the Tigers, who dropped their second consecutive match after winning five straight. Then FEU’s Greg Dolor and Jude Garcia took care of the winded Adamson pair, Michael Sudaria and Rence Melgar ,21-19, 21-19 for the last spot, setting up a clash with their Manila neighbors in the first match of the stepladder.

The afternoon kicked off UST’s epic climb: first rallying past the FEU Tams, 21-13, 17-21, 15-13. FEU’s Dolor and Garcia, who usually start matches strongly, this time folded easily in the first set but hit back hard in the second set with strong attacks. Guzman and Arbasto, however, kicked up a gear, masterfully defending and fending off FEU’s late comeback to move up.

UST then survived two more do-or-die matches, winning against the twice-to-beat NU Bulldogs 21-14, 17-21, 15-11 in their first match then mustering a 19-21, 22-20, 15-12 victory in their second matchup. Right from the first point, Guzman and Arbasto came up with plenty of energy, celebrating and screaming after every point as if they had won the title. NU’s power and height advantage wilted as both Bagunas and Gampong began suffering cramps. In the end, UST’s desire and mental toughness were too much into both matches.

Guzman and Arbasto spent more than 15 hours at the venue yesterday, staying for hours on the court with all four of their matches going into a third set.

Meanwhile, Ateneo and UST collide for the championship early in the morning on Wednesday, October 21 at the Sand by the Bay on the Mall of Asia grounds.

In the day’s only match with no Final Four implications, UP’s Alfred Valbuena and Evan Raymundo outlasted DLSU’s Carlo Sendo and Levin Dimayuga, 16-21, 21-14, 15-12. The Maroons had taken all of their foes to the brink of a loss but collapsed near the end of sets. Against La Salle, they nearly collapsed again, blowing the opening set but regaining control early in the second set and never looking back. Although La Salle was never in contention for a Final Four spot, the loss could set the school back in the overall standings for the general championship, a perennial target for the DLSU Sports programs.

The final elimination round standings

(1) ADMU 7-0
(2) NU 6-1
(3) UST 5-2
(4) FEU 4-3

AdU 3-4
UP 2-5
DLSU 1-6
UE 0-7

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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.

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