After seeing their 30-game winning streak end last Sunday, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles bounced back with a resounding four-set win over perennial rivals National University Bulldogs, 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Blue Eagles continued their dominance over the Bulldogs, winning their 13th consecutive UAAP match against NU.
Seeking their fourth straight UAAP title, the Blue Eagles needed this win to bounce back from a terrible loss to the Far Eastern University.
“We just came from a terrible loss. Well it just shows na everything should come from the ground. Hindi pwedeng you assume what to expect. Importante, if you want to expect something you have to work for it. My players delivered well, they owned the team, they owned this game,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro.
Ateneo opened the match with a decisive comeback, erasing a 23-20 NU lead and taking six of the next seven points to take the lead. The Blue Eagles then recovered from a sluggish third set loss by opening the fourth frame with an 8-2 blitz. The Bulldogs got within one, 12-13, but the Blue Eagles immidiately averted disaster, rattling off the next four points to seal the winning deficit.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga players ko, we really have to pray hard and work hard this year because alam naman natin na players come and go, but what’s important is, yung naiwan, what’s their goal and what’s their heart’s desire. ‘Yun ang pinaka-importante,” added Ateneo’s fiery head coach.
Four-time UAAP MVP Marck Espejo doubled his output from opening weekend, churning out 24 points off 22-for-44 attacking. Middle blocker Gian Glorioso added 11 points.
National Team stalwart Bryan Bagunas towed the Bulldogs with 18 points, while James Natividad added 16.
The Blue Eagles (1-1) will try to end the perfect start of the University of Santo Tomas (2-0) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Bulldogs (1-1) face the winless University of the East Red Warriors (0-2) also on Sunday.
ADMU (3) – Espejo 24, Glorioso 11, Medalla 8, Njigha 8, Baysa 6, Polvorosa 3, Rivera 1, Trinidad 1, Morado 0, Labao 0, Sumanguid (L)
NU (1) – Bagunas 18, Natividad 17, Ismail 16, Saura 8, Malabunga 6, Dayandante 1, Ancheta 0, Gampong 0, Marcos (L)