MANILA -- Ateneo de Manila University warmed up for the semifinals of the 2023 V-League Men's Collegiate Challenge by sweeping archrivals De La Salle University, 25-17, 26-24, 25-15, on Sunday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Blue Eagles broke away from a tight 11-10 count in Set 3, with Amil Pacinio pouncing on La Salle's wobbly service reception to fuel a 6-0 run. Jian Salarzon and Ken Batas sealed the set and the match with clutch kills.
The victory gave Ateneo the momentum and confidence heading into the semifinals, where they will again battle La Salle. University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University will face off in the other semis clash.
"We just have to remind them mentally that we are not in the position to relax in every game. Every game kailangang nag-prepare, kailangan naming maglaro ng maayos, dahil kailangan naming matuto every time," said Ateneo coach Timothy Sto. Tomas.
Salarzon, who produced eight spikes, also had three timely blocks in the back-and-forth second set duel while Batas led Ateneo with 15 points and Pacinio finished with 13 markers.
JM Ronquillo fired 14 points for La Salle but the Blue Eagles held Yoyong Mendoza and Noel Kampton to four and two markers, respectively.
Meanwhile, National University whipped San Beda U, 25-20, 25-19, 25-16, to close out its elimination round campaign with a 4-3 (win-loss) slate for fifth place.
"Sa 'min lang nila coach Dante, kung ano 'yung resulta namin dito is 'yun naman talaga 'yung gusto namin mangyari, which ma-expose 'yung mga bago," said coach Jessie Lopez, who took over from head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
Clarenz Belostrino once more proved pivotal for the Bulldogs' closing run, cashing in on San Beda's sloppy reception to produce 11 excellent sets that were converted to 33 kills.
Leo Aringo scored nine of those spikes for a total of 13 points, while Michaelo Buddin pummeled the Red Spikers with five aces to end with 11 markers.
No Bedan produced double digits with Muhammad Tahilluddin coming up with seven points and Andrei Bakil adding six markers.