Blue Eagles smell blood, tame Bulldogs in Game 1

Mark Escarlote on Apr 23, 2016 02:05 PM
Blue Eagles smell blood, tame Bulldogs in Game 1
Ateneo de Manila moved a step closer to achieving its back-to-back title bid.

Ateneo de Manila recovered from a set down to defeat the National University Bulldogs, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-18,  and moved a step closer for a repeat title Saturday in the 78th UAAP men’s volleyball championship Game One at the Big Dome.

The Blue Eagles banked on the explosion of reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo and solid defense to turn back the Bulldogs for the third time this season and seventh in a row since last year. Ateneo's winning run of the season is now at 13.

The third year hitter scored 21 points with 18 coming off attacks to lead the Loyola-based squad while Rex Intal wreaked havoc in front of the net with 13 markers, pounding 11 kills with a pair of blocks. 

Last year's Finals MVP Ish Polvorosa bounced back from a bad start to dish out 58 of the Blue Eagles' 59 excellent sets to go with seven markers while skipper Ysay Marasigan, who was flagged with a yellow card for misconduct midway in the second set, finished with 12 points.

"It's really a hard-earned victory today," said Ateneo coach OIiver Almadro. "But I'm proud nag-respond ang mga players ko sa challenge ng NU. They are not a weak team, they are a strong team."

"But I guess the determination of my team mas nag-payoff para sa game namin today," he added.      

Game 2 of the Finals is on Wednesday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

NU failed to capitalize on the momentum of taking the opening set as the Bulldogs were haunted by numerous miscues including nine in the third set alone. The Bulldogs gave away a whopping 29 point off errors. 

Ruben Baysac and Kim Malabunga led NU with 13 markers each while James Natividad and Madzlan Gampong chipped in 12 points each.

  

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