MANILA, Philippines – After a "terrible loss" to open their UAAP Season 80 campaign, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles found their form on Wednesday when they faced off against their bitter rivals, the National University (NU) Bulldogs, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
With reigning four-time MVP Marck Espejo leading the way, the Blue Eagles outclassed the Bulldogs in four sets, 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, for their first win of Season 80.
Ateneo extended its dominance over NU, as they have now beaten the Bulldogs in 13 consecutive matches. The last time that NU defeated the Blue Eagles was in the finals of Season 76. Since then the Katipunan spikers have dominated the rivalry.
"We just came from a terrible loss," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, referring to their shock three-set defeat at the hands of Far Eastern University (FEU) last Sunday.
"(Today) my leaders stepped up… my players delivered well, they owned the team, and they owned this game. I commend my players because they really worked for this. In a span of two days, they adjusted right away," he added.
Espejo, who was limited to only 12 points by FEU, exploded for 24 points this time around. He made 22 of his 44 spikes, and had seven digs and 19 receptions. Gian Glorioso contributed 11 points, including two blocks.
The Blue Eagles set the tone when they stole the opening frame, coming back from a 20-23 deficit behind the powerful spikes of Espejo. NU extended the match when they took the third frame, but a bevy of attack errors in the fourth set doomed the Bulldogs.
Bryan Bagunas led NU with 18 points, while James Natividad had 17 and Fauzi Ismail added 16 markers. The Bulldogs had more attacks, 58-53, and blocks, 6-5, but also gave away 31 points on unforced errors.
Both Ateneo and NU now have 1-1 win-loss records.
In the first men's game of the day, University of Santo Tomas booked their second straight triumph after beating University of the East, 25-11, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15.
The Tiger Spikers weathered an off-game from Jayvee Sumagaysay, as the veteran was scoreless and played only two frames. Joshua Umandal and Juren Buro stepped up in his stead, with 12 points each.
The Red Warriors dropped to 0-2 in UAAP Season 80. They have lost eight straight matches since last season.
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