Ateneo and National U clipped their respective Final Four rivals in varying fashions to move closer to a dream title showdown in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Saturday.
The Eagles rebounded from a fourth-set defeat with an imposing show of force in the decider, hacking out a 25-16, 17-25, 25-23, 26-28, 15-7 victory over the La Salle Archers to gain the headstart in their best-of-three semifinal series.
Earlier, the Bulldogs proved steadier than the Tigers at endgame of three closely-fought sets, coming away with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 victory in their side of the Final Four in the in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Accel as official outfitter.
Ateneo and NU for the clinchers tomorrow with the Eagles and the Archers facing off again at 10 a.m. and the Bulldogs and the Tigers colliding at 12 noon to be aired live via streaming on www.sports.abs-cbn.com.
The defending champion Eagles lorded it over the Archers in power hits, 72-53, but still needed to go through a wringer to turn back their tough arch rivals, who outlasted the former in an extended fourth-set thriller to force a fifth set.
But Eagles put up a dominating performance in the decider anchored on Marck Espejo, Paul Koyfman and Rex Intal to carve out the hard-earned victory in 1:49.
Arjay Onia fired 17 hits while Cris Dumago and guest player Rafael Del Pilar backed him up with 16 and 10 points, respectively, as top hitter Raymark Woo continued to struggle, finishing with nine hits.
Earlier, Fauzi Ismail and Madzlan Gampong fired 14 hits apiece and the Bulldogs produced six aces while controlling the net with eight blocks to fashion out the 72-minute victory.
UST did come up with six blocks and 35 spikes, just two off the Group A elims topnotchers, and made three aces but the Tigers just couldn’t unleash the strong finishing kick needed to neutralize the tough Bulldogs.
Andrei Medina dished out a game-high 15-hit effort but no Tiger scored in double figures with skipper Arnold Bautista Jr. finishing with eight points nad Jomaru Amagan adding six markers.
NU’s Kim Dayadante and Tim Tajanlangit of UST cancelled each other out with 33 excellent sets each with the Tigers turning in 18 digs, five more than the Bulldogs.