Ateneo Blue Eagles overcome FEU's twice-to-beat advantage to nail Finals berth
MANILA, Philippines (3RD UPDATE) – The Ateneo Blue Eagles clinched a 5th straight UAAP men’s volleyball finals berth.
The reigning champions defeated twice-to-beat Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws in Game 2 of the semis in 4 sets, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18, on Wednesday, April 25, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Marck Espejo led the Blue Eagles with 37 points off 34 spikes and 3 blocks. Ish Polvorosa made 40 excellent sets to orchestrate the offense.
Ateneo showed its championship form in the 4th set as it pulled away to a 10-point lead thanks to Chumason Njigha’s quick hit, 23-13. Three straight errors from Ateneo gave free points to FEU that trimmed the deficit until Njigha’s attack nabbed match point.
Jude Garcia scored one more for FEU, followed by his own service error that handed the finalist title to Ateneo.
Redijohn Paler scored 14 points to lead the second-seeded FEU Tamaraws.
FEU’s loss closed out Rikko Marmeto’s UAAP career.
The Blue Eagles rode on the momentum of their Game 1 semis win from the get-go. Chumason Njigha’s back-to-back blocks gave Ateneo a comfortable 6-point lead in the first set, 21-15.
After Solis’ attack off a combination play cut the deficit to 3, the Blue Eagles scored 3 straight points that finished the first set in their favor.
FEU escaped the second set stalemate as Quiel scored 4 of the last 5 points that closed out the set and evened the match.
Midway through the 3rd set, the Tamaraws caught up with the Blue Eagles as Richard Solis tied the score at 19-all. Espejo then stepped up to score 6 of Ateneo’s last 7 points to clinch the 2-1 match advantage.
The Blue Eagles will face archrivals National University (NU) Bulldogs for the 5th straight time in the first game of the finals on Saturday, April 28, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo (3) – Espejo 37, Medalla 9, Baysa 8, Njigha 7, Glorioso 5, Polvorosa 1.
FEU (1) – Paler 14, Garcia 11, Bugaoan 10, Quiel 9, Solis 9, Bautista 3, Silang 1, Suarez 1.