Ateneo survived a first-set scare then imposed its will and power in the next two to sweep La Salle 26-24, 25-19, 25-17, on Monday and arrange a title showdown with National U in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Marck Espejo soared high anew on Joner Polvorosa’s set plays, converting 16 of 22 attempts while Tex Intal went seven-of-seven on kills as the Eagles fashioned out the straight-set win following a scrambling 25-16, 17-25, 25-23, 26-28, 15-7 victory in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series over the weekend.
The sweep kept Ateneo on track for a title repeat in the country’s premier men’s volley league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Accel as official outfitter.
National U gained a crack at redemption as the Bulldogs, swept by the Eagles in last year’s finals, trounced the UST Tigers, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21, to dominate their side of the Final Four.
Madzlan Gampong fired 21 hits while Ismail Fauzi added nine points as the Bulldogs smothered the Tigers in spikes (36-24), blocks (9-5) and serves (5-1) to score a follow-up to their tough 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 triumph in Game One.
Skipper Arnold Bautista Jr. and Andrei Medina unleashed a pair of 10-hit games but the duo failed to draw the needed backup as UST settled for a battle for third with La Salle.
Espejo finished with 24 hits while Intal added nine points, Joshua Villanueva chipped in eight markers and skipper Karl Baysa contributed seven hits in Ateneo’s 71-minute romp.
With Espejo and Intal on the attacking end, the Eagles produced 40 spikes, 17 more than the Archers, who failed to flash the form that dragged the defending champions to a five-set duel the first time out.
The Eagles also parlayed the Archers’ sloppy service reception, scoring nine aces with Espejo also coming through with eight digs to backstop Manuel Sumanguid III’s 12 saves that kept the ball in play for the Loyola-based school.