Defending champion Ateneo survived National College of Business and Arts’ tough third set stand, carving out a 25-20, 25-16, 28-26 victory on Saturday for its third straight in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Reigning league and UAAP MVP Marck Espejo blasted in 11 kills for a 12-hit effort while Russian-American Antony Paul Koyfman added 11 markers, including eight attack points and three blocks as the Eagles surged ahead in Group B and closer to a semifinals appearance.
Ateneo goes for the first of two Final Four slots against University of Santo Tomas on Aug. 20 at The Arena in San Juan City or University of the Philippines on Aug. 29 at the Philsports Arena.
Only the top two teams from each group of six will advance to the best-of-three semis of the mid-season conference of the country’s premier men’s volley league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
The Tigers and the Maroons are at joint second with 2-0 marks.
The NCBA Wildats fell to their third straight defeat.
After handily winning the first two sets, the Eagles needed to toughen up on their defense to foil the Wildcats’ comeback and complete the straight-set win.
“It’s about adjusting defensively and we did especially in the third set,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, seeking to steer the Loyola-based school to a back-to-back championship in the league organized by Sports Vision.
In the other game, Far Eastern U also held off Phl Merchant Marine School, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23, to pick up its second win against a loss in Group A.
This year’s Open Conference MVP Greg Dolor unloaded 12 points while Richard Solis contributed 10 markers as the Tams bolstered their own semis bid behind NCAA champion Perpetual Help and National U, which pace the field with 2-0 marks.
Like the Wildcats, the Mariners fell to 0-3.
10 a.m. – EAC vs San Beda (S Turf)
12 noon – NU vs La Salle (S Turf)
4 p.m. – TIP vs San Sebastian
6 p.m. – Ateneo vs Perpetual