IT took Ateneo de Manila University the full route but the Blue Eagles still did it, foiling De La Salle University, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 14-25, 15-11, to take Game One of the V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge semifinals on Wednesday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Blue Eagles kept their composure and used their defensive hustle coming off a tough fourth-set loss to frustrate the Green Spikers with Jian Salarzon and Jet Gopio delivering back-to-back kill blocks to pound out the victory in the tense-filed two-hour long encounter of bitter school rivals.
“Coming from a bad fourth set, they came back with good composure to close out the fifth set very well,” Ateneo coach Timothy Sto. Tomas said.
Salarzon took another Best Player of the Game honors after leading Ateneo’s assault with 24 points on 20 attacks and four blocks, including a kill that put the Blue Eagles at match point.
Amil Pacinio added 20 markers, three of them also coming at the net, as the Blue Eagles, who also beat the Green Spikers, 25-17, 26-24, 25-15, in the elims, finished with 13 blocks.
La Salle actually matched that 13-block output, including six from JM Ronquillo, who went on to fire 26 points. Noel Kampton bounced back after a dismal game and scored 17 points.
Meanwhile, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA pulled off a shock reversal over erstwhile unbeaten Far Eastern University, 25-21, 28-26, 26-24, to likewise bolster its finals drive in the women’s semis match of the tournament organized by Sports Vision and sponsored by Bola.TV, Beyond Active Wear and Mikasa.
Mary Rhose Dapol dished out a superb all-around game of 13 points, nine excellent digs and eight excellent receptions, while Shai Omipon anchored most of the rallies in the gripping encounter and finished with 20 markers.
It was a big bounce-back victory for the Lady Altas, who dropped a 26-28, 25-17, 17-25, 13-25 setback to the Lady Tamaraws in the eliminations but imposed their will early then lived through back-to-back cliffhangers to snare the win while dealing their fancied rivals an ego-deflating loss.
Playmaker Jasmine Sapin likewise showed for the Las Piñas-based squad, putting up a nine excellent-set game and helping the team move a win away from advancing to the championship.
Kezia Bedonia kept the Lady Tamaraws in the match but failed to draw solid backup from the rest. She finished with 10 points while Faida Bakanke ended up with six markers.
College of Saint Benilde also flexed its defensive muscle to repel University of the East, 25-22, 25-13, 25-12, for the big head-start in the first women’s semifinals duel.
The Lady Blazers used a crippling 8-0 closing run to dispatch the Lady Warriors, spiked by a three straight-hit from Zam Nolasco, including back-to-back kill blocks.
Nolasco finished with six blocks to go with six attacks, while Jade Gentapa paced CSB with 15 markers on 12 attacks, two of which helped anchor their strong finishing kick.
CSB, which struggled the UE side, 23-25, 25-22, 29-27, 25-18, in the elims, held the league’s top gun, Caseiy Dongallo to nine points with Khy Cepeda and Riza Nogales dishing out six markers apiece for the Recto-based squad.