MVP Marck Espejo aims to live up to billing for Ateneo in Spikers' Turf title series
League MVP Marck Espejo struggled for nine points for Ateneo in the opener of the best-of-three title series against the NU Bulldogs. Dante Peralta

MARCK Espejo hopes to rebound from a mediocre showing the first time out and live up to his MVP billing as Ateneo guns for a sweep of the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference crown against National University on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan City.

Espejo struggled for nine points in the best-of-three series’ opener last week after running away with the MVP plum, but Rex Intal stepped up and Ysrael Marasigan and Karl Baysa came through with solid games to help carry the Eagles to a 25-17, 25-18, 25-19 victory.

Intal fired 15 hits, including an impressive seven-block performance that helped stymie the Bulldogs’ attacks while skipper Marasigan matched Espejo’s output, highlighted by three aces against NU’s poor service reception.

But the Bulldogs are expected to have made the necessary adjustments following a long break although the Eagles are hell-bent on finishing off their rivals and avoid going through a decider.

Game Two is set Sunday at 3 p.m. which can be viewed live via streaming on A decider, if necessary, will be played on October 4.

Aside from Espejo, setter Joner Polvorosa is also expected to be in top form on Sunday after getting hospitalized for a viral infection before Game One. Still, the ace Ateneo playmaker produced 24 excellent sets, feeding Intal, Espejo and the other Ateneo hitters from both flanks and back row.

NU actually outscored Ateneo, 36-31, as Bryan Bagunas scored 11 hits and Fauzi Ismail and Francis Saura each punched in nine markers. But the Eagles made up for this with solid blocking, 10 against 3, while pouncing on the Bulldogs’ sloppy reception with eight aces.

Meanwhile, Emilio Aguinaldo College tries to wrap up third place honors against National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) when they clash in Game Two on Saturday at 3 p.m., also at The Arena.

The Generals beat the Wildcats, 25-18, 25-12, 25-14, in the opener of their own series for third last week.

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