MANILA, Philippines – Defending men's volleyball champion Ateneo de Manila University rebounded from a listless second set performance to overpower rival De La Salle University in four sets on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Blue Eagles registered a 25-18, 19-25, 25-17, 25-17 triumph to extend their winning streak to seven games and improve to 7-1 in the UAAP Season 80 men's volleyball tournament.
Ateneo is now at solo first with Far Eastern University (6-1) and National University (6-1) still in hot pursuit.
"Hindi ko pa nakikita 'yung intensity namin na from start to finish," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro after the game. "Hindi ko pa nakikita 'yung peak namin, so 'yun ang hinihintay ko. We have to peak at the right time."
The Blue Eagles took a comfortable win in the opening frame, but had no answer from Cris Dumago and Arjay Onia in the second frame as the two took turns in puncturing Ateneo's net defense.
"They brought the momentum to the second set. We started slow, we started doubtful nung second set. Towards the end naman, nakukuha nila 'yung momentum, but it's too late," said Almadro.
Ateneo regained control in the third frame, with Marck Espejo reasserting control and John Rivera coming up with solid hits in a reserve role. In the fourth set, La Salle managed to stay within striking distance early, but the Blue Eagles pulled away after the second technical timeout.
Espejo led Ateneo with 22 points on 19 kills, while Karl Baysa contributed 10 points.
La Salle got 15 points from Onia and 10 points from Dumago. Raymark Woo scored the bulk of his 11 points in the third and fourth frames.
The Green Spikers dropped to 3-5 in the season.
In the first game, University of the Philippines (UP) pulled off an impressive 28-26, 25-18, 25-23 triumph over University of Santo Tomas (UST) for their third win of the season.
The Fighting Maroons completed a season sweep of the Tiger Spikers, who have now lost four games in a row. Wendel Miguel and Mark Millette combined for 30 points in UP's triumph.
Both UP and UST now have identical 3-5 slates, joining La Salle in fourth place.
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