Ateneo and FEU started the 2nd round of the UAAP Season 78 men’s volleyball tournament with a slugfest, but it was the Blue Spikers who emerged victorious in 5 sets Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center.
It was nonetheless an exciting battle of fireworks, with the Tamaraws taking it to the defending champions all throughout the 19-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21, 15-11 win by the latter.
“First of all, the Lord gave us this win. He really doesn’t want us to be down at this stage of the tournament,” said a visibly relieved coach Oliver Almadro post-match.
With the FEU defenders focusing their attention on reigning MVP Marck Espejo, Almadro leaned on the contributions of Ysay Marasigan, Ish Polvorosa and Josh Villanueva to remain atop the heap.
The national U23 men’s team coach lauded the Tamaraws for taking the fight to them.
“FEU is a good team this year. Talagang matiyaga yung FEU, fighter talaga ‘yan,” he said. “I am happy because in this kind of situation, yung team ko nakakapag-adjust.”
“Sinabi ko sa mga bata ko, ‘ma-block na kayo, um-outside na mga palo niyo, important thing is positive ang gagawin niyo. So kung ilang error man yan, I don’t care basta alam niyo ang gagawin niyo.’ “Mag-eerror sila? No problem, basta alam nila paano sila babawi,” said Almadro, whose team had 39 unforced errors.
The hard-fought triumph over the Tamaraws is just the start of what is deemed to be another tiring week for the Blue Spikers, who will have to face battles both on the court and in the classroom.
“Midterms ng Ateneo. But this is our life,” he said. “They chose Ateneo to be their school, so they have to eat pressure and stress breakfast, lunch and dinner.” — By Arylle Magtalas