Ateneo and National U slug it out today in the opener of their best-of-three series for the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference crown with the Eagles gunning for a repeat and the Bulldogs seeking a payback at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Eagles stake their unbeaten run against a team they swept in last year’s inaugurals of the country’s premier men’s volley league but the Loyola-based squad remains wary of the hungry Bulldogs as they face off in a 12 noon duel tipped to go down-to-the-wire.
The match can be viewed live on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/spikersturf, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Meanwhile, La Salle and UST also start their own best-of-three series for third at 10 a.m.
It will be a duel of power and blocking plus reception and floor coverage with the Bulldogs emerging as the top spiking team after the semis with 52.42 percent success from 314 attempts. Ateneo wound up close second with 50.65 percent effort from 310 tries but led NU in blocking with 2.21 average by set against the latter’s 2.13.
Ateneo also emerged the top serving team with NU at fourth and the Eagles were also tops in reception with 47.04 percent efficiency as against NU’s 43.97 percent effort that was good only for fifth.
But stats won’t matter in a grudge finals match.
Ateneo swept the group stage and disposed of arch rival La Salle in the Final Four although it needed to go to a wringer before subduing the Archers in five, 25-16, 17-25, 25-23, 26-28, 15-7, in Game One of their semis playoff. The defending champions then clipped the Taft-based spikers in the next match, 26-24, 25-19, 25-17, to advance to the finals of the league backed by Accel as official outfitter.
Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs, who also topped their side in the elims and quarters, bumped off the UST Tigers in two, scoring a 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 win in Game One before finishing off their rivals in the next, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21.
That should make the finals opener worth watching with the Eagles and Bulldogs bringing in their firepower, blocking skills, reception and floor defense in what promises to be a slam-bang encounter between the league’s best teams.
Expect Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro to lean on top hitter Marck Espejo, Rex Intal, Joshua Villanueva, Karl Baysa and prized rookie recruit Paul Koyfman and setter Joner Polvorosa as they match power, blocking and receives against NU coach Dante Alinsunurin’s aces, headed by Madzlan Gampong, Fauzi Ismail, Bryan Bagunas, Fancis Saura and Kim Malabunga along with playmaker Kim Dayandante.
10 a.m. – La Salle vs UST
(best-of-three for third)
12 noon – Ateneo vs NU
(best-of-three for crown)