Ateneo ace Espejo drops 27 in four-set win over FEU
Mark Escarlote on Sep 03, 2017 03:29 PM
Marck Espejo hammered 24 kills in his 27-point explosion as Ateneo submits Far Eastern University in four sets.
Marck Espejo was back in his old dangerous self in Ateneo de Manila University’s first major tournament since solidifying its dynasty in the UAAP.
The King Eagle blasted 27 points to lead the Katipunan-based squad’s 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-20 win against Far Eastern University Sunday in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference men’s division at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Espejo unleashed 24 attacks, a pair of aces and kill block for the three-time UAAP champion Ateneo, which is looking to win its third straight collegiate conference title since dominating the defunct V-League in an unbeaten championship runs in 2015 and 2016.
The Blue Eagles joined other early winners De La Salle University, University of Sto. Tomas and archrival National University, which destroyed San Beda College in straight sets, 25-15, 25-16, 25-18, early Sunday sans injured national team member Bryan Bagunas.
Top setter Ish Polvorosa tallied 43 excellent sets in Ateneo’s 51 attack points.
John Rivera added 11 markers while Ron Medalla and UAAP Season 79 rookie of the year Chumason Njigha combined for 16 points for the Blue Eagles, who are playing sans incoming sophomore 6-foot-8 Russian-American Tony Koyfman and the veterans Rex Intal and Josh Villanueva, who have already exhausted their playing eligibility.
Koyfman is still recovering from an illness in his lungs.
“Honestly talaga namang wala si Koyfman, wala si Rex and wala si Josh but I’m always telling my players is that we have to make a way and find a way. Kung ano ang meron kami we have to make the most out of it,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro.
The Blue Eagles recovered from a sluggish opening set performance to take a 2-1 match lead but was put in another test by the Tams in the fourth frame.
FEU cut down its 17-22 deficit to 20-22 before Ateneo team captain Karl Baysa stopped the bleeding with an off the block kill to spark the closing run.
Jude Garcia and Richard Solis finished with 14 markers each for the Morayta-based squad.
Meanwhile, Bagunas skipped action because of a lingering back spasm but Fauzi Ismail and James Natividad stepped up for the Bulldogs.
Ismail had 17 points while Natividad got 16 for NU.
Adrian Viray scored nine to lead the Red Lions.
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