Blue Eagles shackle Tigers in three-peat bid opener
Mark Escarlote on Feb 04, 2017 12:26 PM
Ateneo de Manila defeated University of Sto. Tomas in straight sets.
Ateneo de Manila started its three-peat bid on the right foot Saturday with an emphatic 25-23, 25-14, 25-18, win over the University of Sto. Tomas Tigers in the 79th UAAAP men’s volleyball tournament at the Big Dome.
Now boasting of great ceiling with the addition of 6-foot-8 Tony Koyfman, the Blue Eagles were able to bully their way into victory in just an hour and 19 minutes.
Reigning three-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo was in his usual dangerous self, pounding 11 kills in his 13-point performance to lead the Katipunan-based squad, which joined early winner and archrival National University. Espejo also delivered on defense with seven excellent receptions and five digs.
The Russian-American Koyfman scored eight points with six coming off attacks but his towering presence in front of the net gave the Blue Eagles a huge advantage on defense, intimidating the attackers of UST. Graduating player Josh Villanueva added eight markers while Rex Intal got five for Ateneo, which will have an early Finals rematch against the Bulldogs on Wedenesday.
“Everybody delivered well, ‘yung mga coming from the bench. Again, ‘yun lang ang nakita kong maganda sa team namin, ‘yung resiliency, kasi noong first set, we were in a hurry,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. “Kasi ang mantra namin, from the previous years we always start slow. So ngayon, we want to start strong, but the tendency is nagmadali.”
“So I guess, a couple of errors, a couple of miscommunications,” he added. “But ‘yung resiliency at yung composure ng team, yun ang nag pay off in that first set for us, kaya nakuha namin ang first set.”
UST, which committed 31 errors to open their campaign, was led by Manuel Medina and skipper Arnold Bautista with eight and seven points, respectively. The Tigers joined University of the East on the losers’ column.
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