Blue Eagles set up Finals showdown versus Tamaraws
Marck Espejo poured in 23 points to help Ateneo break into the PVL Collegiate Conference men's finals. (FILE PHOTO)
Hard-hitting Marck Espejo came to the rescue of Ateneo de Manila University with another stellar performance in the Blue Eagles’ 22-25, 25-22, 31-29, 25-13, win over University of Sto. Tomas in Game 3 of the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference men’s division best-of-three semifinals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, Monday.
Espejo poured in 23 points to lead the Blue Eagles’ march into the Finals against Far Eastern University. Ateneo entered their third straight championship appearance since sweeping their way into the throne of the last two collegiate conferences of the defunct V-League.
The best-of-three championship series opens on Wednesday.
The four-time UAAP Most Valuable Player hammered 20 kills in his return to action after sitting out in Ateneo’s Game 2 loss last Saturday to reserve his energy in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament later that day.
Coming off a slow start, Ateneo regrouped in the next two sets and used the momentum of their great escape in the third set to crush the resistance out of the Tigers.
“First of all, I thank the Lord for the strength and the power and the guidance,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. “You know naman na Marck and Karl (Baysa) are coming from beach volleyball pa rin, but still they managed to show their leadership, pati si Ish (Polvorosa). Good thing nag-deliver si Ron Medalla noong last two sets.”
Gian Carlo Glorioso scored 11 points while Ishmael Rivera got 10 markers for the Katipunan-based squad.
UST, behind Joshua Umandal’s inspired play, took the opening set and gave the Blue Eagles a hard time in the second before fading in the closing juncture of the second frame.
Ateneo was in control of the third set, 24-20, before squandering four set points as UST forced the frames first of six deuces. Espejo pushed the Blue Eagles ahead, 30-29, before UST yielded the set with Juren Buro’s attack that went long.
It was all Ateneo in the fourth frame.
Umandal finished with 20 points anchored on 18 attacks, while Manuel Medina got 12 markers for the Tigers, who will take on National University in the best-of-three battle for third.
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