Ateneo overcomes FEU, advances to 5th straight UAAP men’s volleyball finals
Defending champion Ateneo showed its tenacity and overcame the odds to advance to its fifth straight finals series after turning back Far Eastern University, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18, in the semifinals of the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball tournament.
The third seed Blue Eagles had to overcome a twice-to-win advantage against the Tamaraws to set up a best-of-three series against top team National University in the championship round.
“My players really wanted this,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro in Filipino. “They sacrificed a lot, they studied every opponent, and they absolutely wanted this win.”
“Last night they told me ‘coach we will never back down’ and when I heard that I knew they would go all out for today. I thank them because they believe in the process of doing it right, no need for the spectacular, just the right execution.”
Ron Adrian Medalla capped off the three-time champions’ decisive 15-7 run in the fourth set with an off-the-block kill that gave Ateneo a 22-13 lead.
Chu Njigha then scored on a furious running spike to send the Blue Eagles to the 24-17 match point.Reigning four-time MVP Marck Espejo followed up his historic 55-point performance from the previous game with 37 points to lead the Blue Eagles.
Ateneo scored on 59 spikes and Espejo accounted for 34 of those kills.
Redijohn Paler had 14 points for FEU while Jude Garcia and John Paul Bugaoan combined for 21.