Ateneo de Manila University head coach Oliver Almadro praised his wards after showing great character as the Blue Eagles bounced back from an opening-day setback with a morale-boosting four-set win over bitter rival National University.
After a ‘terrible loss’ to start their campaign in the 80th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament, the Blue Eagles rediscovered their rhythm to down the Bulldogs, 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The victory came three days after Ateneo saw its 30-game winning streak that started in Season 78 snapped in straight sets by Far Eastern University.
“Well unang-una, sabi ko sa kanila, that's a lesson for us. We just woke up on the wrong foot, and now, walang bagong ginawa,” said Almadro. “We just did what we are doing. I told them na we have to play the Ateneo way. Yun ang importante.”
Ateneo reasserted its mastery over NU, defeating the Bulldogs for the 13th straight time since Season 77.
“Una nga, paano kami mag-a-adjust, kasi it's a terrible loss for us,” the mentor said. “But, my leaders stepped up. Marck (Espejo), Ish (Polvorosa), Karl (Baysa), they stepped up. And 'yung mga role players ko, talagang nag-deliver.”
Four-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo doubled his production from their last outing with 24 points highlighted by a 22-of-44 attacking clip he spiced with 19 excellent receptions and seven digs.
Gian Glorioso had 11 while skipper Karl Baysa finished with six. Season 79 Rookie of the Year Chumason Njigha and Ron Medalla had eight each while etter Polvorosa got 41 excellent sets to help the Blue Eagles uncork 53 attacks.
“I guess everything should be with teamwork lang talaga. The only thing is to never ever give up. Whatever happens, never, ever give up,” said Oliver, whose squad turned the momentum on their side when they overhauled a 20-23 deficit late in the opening set.
“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,” he added. “So I commend Marck, he's really patient today. Ish, being a leader. Karl, being our microphone every time in every practice. Lalo na 'yung mga middle ko.”
“'Yung mga middle ko ngayon, delivered very well. They responded to the need of our team. Yun ang importante, my players responded right away. 'Yun ang importante na pumapasok sa utak at sa puso nila na mangyari.”
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