UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Ateneo in survival mode, out to force a decider

Mark Escarlote on Apr 21, 2018 07:54 AM
UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Ateneo in survival mode
Ateneo de Manila University puts its four-peat hopes on the line.

Three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University is now in unfamiliar territory, needing to win twice against Far Eastern University in the 80th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament.

For the first time in five years in the Marck Espejo era, the Blue Eagles are at a disadvantage in the postseason.

The Katipunan-based squad look to survive and force a rubber match on Saturday at the MOA Arena to keep its four-peat hopes alive.

Opening serve is at 2:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream.

“The motivation to get into the Finals is still there but now we just have to win twice,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. “Now we have to double the effort.”

The Blue Eagles fell to third spot after the elims with an 11-3 win-loss record, dropping a crucial match against archrival National University, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, last week.

It will be a tough task for Ateneo to extend the series especially against a squad that the Blue Eagles in the elims.

Coming off a perfect Season 79, Ateneo saw its 30-game winning streak snapped by the Tamaraws in a shocking 18-25, 19-25, 22-25, rout before falling short in a sorry 27-25, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 14-16, loss in the second round.  

But Almadro remains positive.

“This year is a year of upsets di ba? Now we’re the underdogs, but who knows? Ang importante we just have to pray for it and work for it,” he said. “Tinalo kami ng FEU twice and we will try to beat them twice also.”

Four-time Most Valuable Player Espejo and four-time Best Setter Ish Polvorosa are expected to go all-out to keep Ateneo in the race for fourth straight crown in their last playing year.   

 

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