Blue Eagles now two wins away from an outright Finals seat
Mark Escarlote on Mar 26, 2017 11:36 AM
Marck Espejo led defending champion Ateneo de Manila closer to an automatic championship berth.
Two more to go.
National University and De La Salle University are the only remaining teams standing on the three-peat seeking Ateneo de Manila’s historic elimination round sweep and an outright ticket to the Finals of the 79th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament.
The Blue Eagles hurdled a University of the East crew, which played without its main hitter, in straight sets 27-25, 25-19, 25-14, Sunday at the Big Dome to move two wins away from an automatic best-of-three championship seat.
Ateneo remained perfect in 12 outings and extended its winning streak to 26 straight since last season.
Three-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo displayed an all-around scoring performance, hitting 13 kills with five kill blocks and an ace to finish with 19 points for the Katipunan-based squad.
Rex Intal and 6-foot-8 Russian-American Tony Koyfman chipped in seven points each in just two sets of action for the Blue Eagles, who scattered 43 spikes and had 10 kill blocks.
Head coach Oliver Almadro fielded all of his players, taking advantage of the absence of injured UE scorer Edward Camposano, and saw a promising midlle in Fil-Nigerian Chumason Njigha, who scored six points.
"Maganda talaga ang nilaro ng UE, they played really well. Too bad wala si Edward [Camposano]. But credit to them for playing really well," said Almadro.
"I've been wanting to play Chu for a long time now. Nauudlot lang. I'm confident naman with all my players from one to 14. Chu, he's going to be our strength in the future," he added.
Ateneo will face DLSU on April 1 before closing the elims against NU on April 8.
The Red Warriors will miss Camposano for the rest of the season as the Season 77 Rookie of Year is set to undergo an operation on his right knee. Camposano aggravated an ACL tear he has been nursing since his rookie season.
Clifford Inoferio had 15 points while Noel Alba finished with eight markers for UE, which absorbed its 11th loss in 12 games.
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