Blue Eagles go for title no. 3

Mark Escarlote on May 06, 2017 05:56 AM
Blue Eagles go for title no. 3
Ateneo de Manila out to complete title sweep.

Going for the kill.

Four-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo and the three-peat seeking Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles go all-out to finish off archrival National University Saturday in Game 2 of the 79th UAAP men’s volleyball best-of-three Finals at the Big Dome.  

“Siguro ito, last game na, ipu-push na namin lahat ng kailangan naming gawin,” said Espejo, who is set to receive his fourth straight highest individual honor before the pivotal match of their fourth straight championship showdown.

The Blue Eagles’ eyes are on the prize when they march into the 12:00 noon battle that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream.

“Siguro ‘yung mindset namin naka-set na sa gold eh. Kasi kumbaga konting-konting na lang ito,” the Ateneo ace said.

The Blue Eagles defeated the Bulldogs in a come-from-behind fashion, 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13, in the series opener last Tuesday to move a win closer to completing a historic sweep of the season and a three-peat.

Ateneo will enter the court brimming with confidence, as they remain undefeated for 29 straight games since last season and holds a nine-game winning streak in its head-to-head against the Bulldogs.   

Now, only one game separates the Katipunan-based squad from completing a dynasty.

“Last game na ito, ipu-push na natin, all out na lang talaga. ‘Yung gold lang talaga ang gustong-gusto namin makuha,” Espejo said.

Helping the power-hitter reach their goal are graduating players Josh Villanueva and Rex Intal, 6-foot-8 Russian-American Tony Koyfman, Best Setter winner Ish Polvorosa and team captain Karl Baysa.

But NU has something different in mind.

Two years removed from the throne, the Bulldogs are ready for a dogfight to keep their championship hopes alive and extend the series to a sudden death on May 10. 

Beaten convincingly by Ateneo in two elims meetings, NU showed its fangs in the series opener after building a 2-1 match lead only to falter in the end.  

Head coach Dante Alinsunurin saw a fighting Bulldogs squad in their previous game. It will now boil down on how hungry for glory his wards are.  

“Oo 'yun na lang eh, parang mismong kami na lang ‘yung tatanungin kung talagang gusto naming,” he said. “Sana sa next game namin hindi na sila mag-doubt. Every time na nasa loob ng court, na kailangan namin pumuntos, pupuntos kami, kailangan namin magtrabaho, magtatrabaho kami.”

Bryan Bagunas, Fauzi Ismail, Francis Saura and James Natividad must bring not only their A-game but also the confidence to carry NU’s fight. 



Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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