Spikers’ Turf: Ateneo, NU a win away from finals date
Energized by a week-long rest, Ateneo pounced on the anemic resolve of National Colleges of Business and Arts and inched closer to the finals of the Spikers’ Turf Season 1 Collegiate Conference.
UAAP MVP Marck Espejo and Rex Intal relentlessly attacked the net in leading the Blue Eagles to an overpowering 25-9, 25-22, 25-19 win Monday at the start of their best-of-three semifinal series at The Arena in San Juan.
Later in the afternoon, National University also moved a game away from sealing a championship date after surviving Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25-23, 26-28, 25-18, 26-28, 15-11, through the heroic efforts of setter Vince Mangulabnan, Fauzi Ismail and Madzian Gampong.
Wracked by fatigue, the Wildcats managed to put up a fight in the second and final frames through the initiative of guest player Edwin Tolentino and Ralph Jonel Oclima, who combined for 16 hits.
The Wildcats checked in weary following a hard-earned 30-28, 31-29, 25-21 win over the La Salle Green Archers in a knockout match over the weekend.
“We’re aggressive and played with more intensity,’’ said Ateneo coach Oliver Almandro, whose Blue Eagles go for a sweep Wednesday.
Espejo and Intal scored 13 each while Joshua Alexis Miguel Villanueva added 12 and Ysrael Marasigan had 10.
“Ateneo played better than us, it’s as simple as that,’’ said NCBA coach Ernesto Balubar.
Ismail scored 23 hits and Gampong added 15, but it was the outstanding performance of Mangulabnan, who excellently set up their spikers 40 times, that proved pivotal for the Bulldogs.
Howard Mojica almost single-handedly carried the Generals with 35 points while Hariel Doguna contributed 17 in a match pushed to the limit.
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