Ateneo annexed another men’s volley crown in emphatic fashion, sweeping Far Eastern U, 25-21, 25-22, 25-16, to rule the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
Like in their 25-22, 25-20, 25-19 romp in the opener of their best-of-three playoff, the Eagles needed to rally midway through the first two sets before imposing their will and power in the third to fashion out the 74-minute victory for their third collegiate title after scoring back-to-back championships in the defunct V-League in 2015-16.
Marck Espejo unloaded a 20-hit game, including 14 attack points, while Gian Glorioso added nine kills and finished with 10 markers for the Eagles, who, however, missed completing a sweep of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision after losing Game Two of their Final Four duel with UST without Espejo.
But the power-hitting ace, a four-time UAAP MVP who had to anchor Ateneo’s campaign in the UAAP beach volley, came back in the semis decider to power the Eagles to the finals then led the fancied squad past the Tams in two.
Espejo went on to bag the MVP honors and lead the other top performers in the tournament backed by Mikasa and Asics. They included Ateneo’s Manuel Sumanguid (best libero), Ish Polvorosa, also of Ateneo, (best setter), National U’s Fauzi Ismail (2nd Best Outside Spiker), FEU’s Paul Bugaoan (1st Best Middle Blocker), Kim Malabunga, also of NU, (2nd Best Middle Blocker), and UST’s Joshua Umandal (Best Opposite Spiker).
Espejo, who posted an impressive 62.86 percent success rate in attacks, also took the 1st Best Outside Spiker award.
Polvorosa also produced 30 excellent sets and finished with four points, while Ishmael Rivera and Chumason Njigha combined for 14 points for the Eagles, who also cashed in on their rivals poor service reception to score seven aces.
Ateneo also outhit FEU, 44-36, and had more blocks, 5-3.
The Tams drew eight points from Redijohn Paler, a pair of seven-pointers from Raymond Bautista and Peter Quiel and six points each from skipper Richard Solis and Bugaoan. But they just couldn’t match the Eagles firepower and superb floor coverage and net defense.
FEU actually wrested control at 19-17 in the second frame but wilted in the face of the Eagles’ strong fightback anchored on Polvorosa and Espejo.
Ateneo then took all but one of the first seven points in the third set and the Eagles cruised to another set win and a crown in the tournament backed by Mikasa and Asics.
UST, with Manuel Medina and Umandal firing 15 hits apiece, also took third place in the men’s side, repeating over National U, 21-25, 30-28, 28-26, 25-21.