MANILA, Philippines—Jian Salarzon and Abai Llenos conspired to lead Ateneo past winless University of the Philippines, 25-18, 25-21, 25-19, to finish the first round on a high note in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Salarzon, a rookie, led the charge with 17 points built on 14 attacks and three blocks as the Blue Eagles finished the first round with a 3-4 record.
Llenos was also instrumental with 15 points off 12 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to go with 14 receptions, while Ken Batas added 11 markers, including three blocks.
“We’re very happy and thankful that we’re able to win this game, our last game in the first round. Hopefully, we can bring this momentum into the second round,” said Ateneo coach Timmy Sto. Tomas. “In the first round, we had problems with the confidence of the team because mostly our games were very close. Our losses, we were leading, and then all of a sudden we collapsed.”
“Hopefully, during this break going to the second round. We can still tweak that a little to lessen those kinds of fluctuations inside the court while playing,” he added.
Salarzon vowed to do better in the second round as they need more wins to reach the Final Four, holding fifth place behind unbeaten National University (6-0), second seed University of Santo Tomas (6-1), Far Eastern University (5-2), and La Salle (4-2).
“Our mindset is to give our best every game so we can make it to the Final Four,” said Salarzon in Filipino. “I’m happy to play for my dream school. I can feel the pressure because the level of competition here is different. But our senior teammates keep on pushing us inside the court and give us courage.”
UP will gun for its first win against hapless Adamson on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons drew the contributions from their bench with Ranz Cajolo leading the way with nine points, while Jessie Rubin, Ruskin Ijiran, and Daniel Nicolas added seven markers each.