ATENEO captured its first UAAP men's volleyball title on Saturday, dethroning back-to-back champion National University with a 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-15 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Rex Intal scored on a running spike to hand the championship point to the Blue Eagles, who completed a stunning sweep of the best-of-three title series.
The Katipunan-based spikers last won a championship in 1976 in the NCAA under coach Pitong Custodio.
Back-to-back MVP Marck Espejo matched his career-high of 33 points, scoring on 28 spikes, two blocks and three service aces, while skipper Ysrael Marasigan added 14.
Ateneo needed an hour and 45 minutes to stop the Bulldogs, but coach Oliver Almadro said he felt the title was in the bag much earlier.
The Blue Eagles had to work hard from a set down, but by was cruising by the fourth and led by as many as eight points, 17-9, after a Marasigan service ace.
“Sa fourth set ko naramdaman na heto na, lumalabas na ang laro namin. Sa fourth set nagclick na ang service namin,” Almadro said.
“It’s really worth the wait, pinaghirapan talaga namin ito, dugo’t pawis ang binuhos namin.”
NU tried to close in and scored three consecutive points make it, 14-19, but Espejo was quick to stop the Bulldogs’ momentum and Ateneo scored the last five points of the match.
Peter Torres was the lone Bulldog to finish in double digits with 12 points, while Edwin Tolentino added eight, Jan Paglinawan chipped in seven and Ruben Baysac had six.