MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University and National University (NU) turned back separate opponents to assure themselves of at least a playoff for a semifinal spot in the UAAP Season 80 men's volleyball tournament on Wednesday.
The Blue Eagles defeated a stubborn Adamson University squad, 25-19, 26-24, 25-22, for their eighth win in a row to improve to 8-1 in the season.
Reigning four-time MVP Marck Espejo shone once more for Ateneo, firing 23 points on 16 attacks, four blocks, and three service aces while also providing 17 excellent receptions. Ron Medalla added 15 points.
Ateneo trailed for most of the second and third sets but stood strong in crunch time to avoid Adamson's upset axe. Medalla drilled a service ace to complete Ateneo's comeback in the second set, and Chumason Njigha did the same in the third frame as the Blue Eagles overhauled a five-point deficit to secure the sweep.
Paolo Pablico had 18 points in a losing effort for Adamson. The Soaring Falcons now have a 3-6 win-loss record and are on the brink of elimination from the playoff race.
Meanwhile, the NU Bulldogs made quick work of the skidding University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 25-21, 25-16, 25-22.
Bryan Bagunas led NU's charge with 19 points on 15 kills and four blocks. The Bulldogs completely stifled the Tigers at the net, as they registered 14 rejections in just three sets.
Kim Malabunga added 14 points for the Bulldogs, six of which were on blocks.
Joshua Umandal had 15 points for the Tigers, who have now lost five games in a row to also drop to 3-6.
The Bulldogs have now won seven games in a row to tie Ateneo at the top of the standings with their 8-1 win-loss record.
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