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One step forward: Blue Spikers book first finals seat with win over Adamson

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Ending the elimination phase on top of the standings, the Ateneo Blue Spikers quickly took care of business against the Adamson Falcons to advance to the UAAP Season 77 Men’s Volleyball championship round with a 25-16, 25-12, 26-28, 25-20 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Last year’s bridesmaid finishers erected a four-point lead early with their attacks falling and on target. Mark Espejo scored with two cross-court spikes, alongside his team who gained a point off a net block to push the Blue Spikers’ lead to six points, 16-10, entering the second technical timeout.

With poor reception haunting the top receiving team Adamson and back-row attacks working in Ateneo’s favor, Espejo and the rest of the Blue Spikers padded the lead to 20-13 that forced the Falcons to a ceasefire. Five of the next eight points were scored by Ateneo to cap off the one-sided frame as Adamson committed two service errors during the stretch.

Maintaining momentum, Ateneo started the second set on a 7-2 rampage as they continued to cause reception problems and launch fiery attacks against the Falcons. This forced an early timeout by Adamson but Ateneo further extended the gap with another 5-2 run punctuated by a running kill by Espejo.

The quick hits- especially the middle ones- continued to fall for Ateneo in addition to their impressive back-row attacks. With Rex Intal scoring from the middle, Ateneo doubled Adamson, 16-8, entering the second technical timeout. The blast extended with six more points poured on by the Blue Spikers against the seemingly lost Adamson team. The Blue Spikers vindictively closed the second set as they limited Adamson to a silent 12-point production.

The third set was a different show as Adamson kept things close and held the lead for the majority of the set. Despite not pulling away, Adamson improved on their defense both on the net and floor as the Blue Spikers had a hard time with their accuracy compared to the first two sets. The Falcons took care of business with a 28-26 win in the third frame to keep their hopes of beating the top seed alive.

In the fourth set, however, Ateneo obliterated the Falcons with a five-point win as quick attacks finally helped the Blue Spikers. They finished the game with a 6-3 spurt including a block and three attacks to keep the Falcons at bay and finally seal the deal on their way to the championship round.

Ateneo dominated the spiking department, 57-42, and scored on two more blocks, 9-7. The glaring statistical difference was service aces as Ateneo mounted a 9-2 advantage in that category with Ysrael Marasigan leading with his four.

The Blue Spikers await the winner between the extended UST-NU series as the Bulldogs forced a rubber match after winning the match prior to this game.

The scores:
ADMU (3) – Marasigan 23, Espejo 22, Villanueva 11, Rivera 9, Intal 7, Polvorosa 3, Señoren 0, Posadas 0, Rivera (L) 0

AdU (1) – Sudaria 10, Pablico 9, David 8, Saraza 8, Ramirez 7, Sarmiento 6, Mallapre 2, Pletado 1, Yude 0, Melgar (L) 0

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