Blue Eagles, Tamaraws near Finals showdown
Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University drew first blood in their respective semifinals series. (File photo)
Unbeaten Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University could be heading into a collision course for the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference men’s division crown after drawing first blood in their respective best-of-three semifinals series.
The top seed Blue Eagles extended their winning streak to eight straight and moved a win away from a Finals berth after manhandling no. 4 ranked University of Sto. Tomas, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21, while the Tamaraws had to thread the proverbial eye of the needle to escape National University, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 16-14.
Top Most Valuable Player contender Marck Espejo scored 11 points coming off six attacks and five kill blocks while Chumason Njigha blasted six spikes and had four kill blocks for Ateneo, who didn’t need to put too much effort in creating points as the error-plagued Tigers gave away 31 points off miscues.
Ishmael Rivera scored nine points while Gian Carlo Glorioso added six for the Katipunan-based squad, which scattered 29 attacks with its bulk coming off playmaker Ish Polvorosa’s 19 excellent sets and solid net defense that resulted to 11 kill blocks.
Only Arnold Bautista scored in double figures for UST, who also dropped a straight sets decision against Ateneo in the elimination round, with 10 points.
No. 2 seed FEU, on the other hand, had to comeback from a 1-2 match deficit to score a morale-boosting win and bounce back from a five-set loss to San Beda College at the end of the elims.
Redihojn Paler led the balanced scoring effort of the Tams with 18 points, 16 coming off spikes. Skipper Richard Solis and Jude Garcia scored 13 each while national team member Peter Quiel and John Paul Bugaoan chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Morayta-based squad, which weathered NU’s 65 attacks and 14 kill blocks.
It was a sorry loss for the Bulldogs after the brilliant offense displayed Fauzi Ismail and national team standout Bryan Bagunas.
Ismail scattered 26 points anchored on 23 kills while Bagunas dropped 21 markers on a 14-kill, 4-kill block and 3-sevice winner outing.
Madzlan Gampong joined the fray with 14 points as well as Kim Malabunga and skipper Francis Saura, who scored 11 each, to no vail.
Ateneo and FEU can set up a best-of-three Finals date with another win on Saturday. But expect UST and NU to fightback and extend the series to a Game 3 on October 9.
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