June 11, 2023

Ateneo looking at short Holy Week break as it strengthens Final Four bid

Ateneo looking at short Holy Week break as it strengthens Final Four bid

Ateneo Blue Eagles nabbed their third consecutive victory in Season 85 of UAAP men’s volleyball tournament, outlasting Adamson Soaring Falcons in a five-set thriller, 20-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23, 15-10 on Saturday.

Down 2-1 after the third set, Ateneo rolled out a strong performance in the fourth frame to get the early lead at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Adamson, however, kept breathing in the necks of the Blue Eagles, until the spikers of Katipunan pulled off the fourth set win.

By the fifth set, the exchange of haymakers continued, but a couple of kills from Kennedy Batas and Jian Salarzon sealed the game for the Blue Eagles.

“We’re able to hold serve and receive properly that’s why we were able to get the fifth set,” says Ateneo coach Timmy Sto. Tomas, who admitted that he sought to rest Batas as much as possible in this game.

The feisty Adamson, however, forced the tactician’s hand.

Good thing Salarzon did the heavy lifting for Ateneo, scoring 22 points built on 20 attacks, 1 block, 1 ace alongside 19 receptions.

Now, Sto. Tomas faces another difficult choice as the UAAP goes for the Holy Week break. As Ateneo, now at 5-4, seeks a deep run, he says that tough choices have to be made.

“’We really have to sacrifice if we want to get into the Final Four and eventually win the championship if ever. Malaking sacrifice ‘yun,” he said.

“Of course, we have to observe the Holy Week din kahit papaano. So, siguro, mga one or two days off.”

Ateneo will seek to extend their winning streak to four games on April 12 against University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. Adamson, who fell to 1-8, will seek to bounce back against National University Bulldogs.

(With reports from Rainier Mira, One Sports Digital)