UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Espejo drops 23 as Ateneo bounces back
Ateneo de Manila University rebounded from an opening-day loss with a four-set victory over National University.
Ateneo de Manila University reasserted its mastery over National University with a 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19 victory Wednesday to barge in the win column of the 80th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Blue Eagles recovered from a third set collapse with a strong start in the fourth to silence the Bulldogs and clinch their first win after two games to tie their victim at the standings.
Four-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo got his rhythm going for an all-around performance to help the Katipunan-based squad bounce back from an opening-day straight sets loss at the hands of Far Eastern University that snapped the Blue Eagles’ 30-game winning streak since Season 78.
The graduating hitter hammered 22 attacks for 24 points and displayed great defensive effort with 19 excellent receptions and seven digs for Ateneo’s 13th straight win over NU since Season 77.
“We just came from a terrible loss. Well it just shows na everything should come from the ground,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. “Hindi pwedeng you assume what to expect.”
“Importante, if you want to expect something you have to work for it. My players delivered well, they owned the team, they owned this game,” he added. “So, I commend my players because they really worked for this. In a span of two days, they adjusted right away.”
Gian Glorioso had 11 points while Season 79 Rookie of the Year Chumason Njigha and Ron Medalla had eight markers each for Ateneo, who received 31 points off NU’s errors. Ish Polvorosa tallied 41 excellent sets.
The Blue Eagles stole the opening set from the Bulldogs, erasing a 20-23 deficit in the closing stretch of the opening frame.
Ateneo was in control of the match after two sets but Bryan Bagunas, James Natividad and Fauzi Ismail connived to open a huge gap in the third to extend the duel.
The Blue Eagles regrouped in the fourth and turned back the repeated comeback attempts of the Bulldogs.
Bagunas pounded 16 spikes with one kill block and an ace for 18 points, Natividad scored all of his 17 markers from attacks while Ismail finished with 16 points for NU.
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