Adamson remains to be Ateneo’s kryptonite.
And Wednesday’s matchup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasig is the best proof as the Soaring Falcons snatched the win from the defending champions in 5 gruelling sets, 25-19, 17-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-13.
The gritty San Marcelino squad banked on its net defense, scoring 12 block points as opposed to Katipunan’s 4 to prove they are still contenders to the crown this Season 78.
“Swerte lang siguro. Pero hirap kami. Talagang napakalakas din ng Ateneo,” said a beaming Domingo Custodio, Adamson’s head coach, during the post-game interview.
“Siguro inspired lang din mga players ko kaya maganda ang nilaro,” he added. “Wala naman kaming gaanong pinag-usapan. Ang pinag-usapan lang namin eh pag nandun na, gawin ang dapat gawin.”
The victory was a welcome development after the Falcons bowed to NU last week in straight sets, even going as low as 7-25 in the last frame.
Defending at the net, though missing halfway through the match, became Adamson’s saving grace in the 5th set led by Dave Pletado’s 5 blocks and 12 kills to finish with 17 markers.
“Nawawala kami sa blocking nung 2nd at 3rd sets kaya nagsisigaw ako ng nagsisigaw. Kahit receive nga pinabayaan pero doon, lamang pa din kami,” shared the mentor.
On all his players clicking, he adds, “Lahat ng anim ko pati libero maganda ang nilaro. Pero talagang hirap pa din kami kasi imagine 5 sets, mahirap ‘yun. Anybody’s game ‘yun eh.”
Three other Falcons in Michael Sudaria, Bryan Saraza and Nico Ramirez combined for 34 points for the team’s winning cause.
On the side of the Blue Spikers, Marck Espejo scorched hot with 27 points built on 25 attacks and 2 service aces.
“Ito ang magandang laro kasi kahit na nahirapan kami, ang mga bata pala mayroong ilalarong ganoon,” said Domingo, who was animated from the match to the press room.
“Kasi ‘yun naman din ang gusto ko. Magpakahirap tayo sa laro,” he added. “Kasi hindi naman talaga magcha-champion kung hindi nagpapakahirap. Walang ganun sa UAAP. Magtrabaho tayo hanggang hindi natatapos ang laro.”
The matchup between Adamson and Ateneo goes way back with fans calling it one of the most exciting rivalries both in men’s and women’s volleyball due to their so-called “kontrapelo.”
In fact, the Falcons did the same feat last year when they downed Ateneo in the 1st round of Season 77.
“Sabi ko sa kanila diba last season tinalo din namin sila sa first round? Gawin namin ulit,” shared the coach.
“Pero nag develop din kasi ang Ateneo. Napakalakas nila. Talagang mahihirapan kami. ‘Yun lang talaga ang pinaghahandaan namin ng husto, ang Ateneo,” he closed. — By Mac Dionisio