Mental preparation is Ateneo’s edge as race to the Final Four heats up

Defending champion Ateneo is dead-last in blocking in the UAAP Season 78 men’s volleyball tournament as the Blue Spikers’ 1st round campaign ended Saturday morning.

To this, coach Oliver Almadro could only hope they can turn this weakness into a strength as the league goes on.

“Alam ko naman na #8 kami sa blocking ngayon,” he admitted. “Pero I’m sure nakablock na kami today, pinagtuunan namin ng pansin yan. Malakas ang NU but siguro nakablock kami today.”

Read: Streak is over: Kim Fajardo stars as La Salle sweeps Ateneo

In the last part of a grueling 3-game week, Ateneo had 6 block points and made quick work of NU, 25-19, 25-15, 25-15, in a finals rematch that turned out to be less exciting than expected.

“Itong week na ‘to mahaba pero siguro we’re mentally prepared so siguro ito yung naging edge namin,” Almadro said. “Nakuha na namin yung goal namin (blocking) so I hope mag-improve pa kami sa ibang aspect.”

Marck Espejo dominated on both ends to finish with 15 points off 10 hits, 4 blocks and an ace while Ish Polvorosa was solid with 23 excellent sets on top of 4 points.

Read: Marck Espejo after 35-point explosion: Hindi pa ito yung 100% ko

Although at the top with a 6-1 record with Adamson, Almadro sees tougher competition as the Final Four race further heats up. 

“First round is an evenly matched round for men’s volleyball, lahat may talo,” he said. “Anyone can beat anyone kaya sabi ko nga dati kailangan lang talaga preparation, every team kailangan paghandaan kasi lahat ng team nag-iimprove.” — By Jason Mercene


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