UAAP Men’s Volleyball: Espejo delivers anew as Ateneo forces decider

Defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles relied on the heroics of four-time MVP Marck Espejo as they outplayed twice-to-beat holder FEU Tamaraws in a thrilling five-setter match, 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, to force a do-or-die game in UAAP Men’s Volleyball final four action, Saturday at MOA Arena.

Here are the takeaways from the exciting match:

ATENEO

NOT YET DONE – With their backs against the wall, the four-peat seeking Blue Eagles made sure to stay on their element as they try to make it back to the finals for the fifth straight year. They force a rubber match against FEU on Wednesday.

ALPHA EAGLE – Espejo dropped a career-high performance off 55 points – 47 coming from attacks, six from blocks and two off service aces. He spearheaded Ateneo’s assault in the final frame, scoring 11 points, including an emphatic kill to seal the win.

EAGLE EYE FLOOR DEFENSE – The floor defense of the Blue Eagles were magnificent all throughout the game. Their libero Manuel Sumanguid provided a double-double performance of 21 excellent digs and 16 excellent receptions.

FEU

MISSED OPPORTUNITY – The FEU Tamaraws squandered their twice-to-beat edge against a team they swept in the eliminations. They were already a set away from the finals but just didn’t have that finishing kick to put the odds in their favor.

VETERANS AT WORK – The troika of Jude Garcia, JP Bugaoan and RJ Paler collectively scored a total of 42 points. But their efforts went futile as they were out attacked solely by Espejo. The team registered a total of 46 attacks while Espejo connected 47 kills all by his lonesome.

PLAGUED BY ERRORS – FEU also had a slew of errors that had a crucial impact to their loss. They had 34 unforced errors as opposed to Ateneo who minimized their errors to 25.

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