RETURNING spiker Tony Koyfman showed the way as Ateneo de Manila defeated La Salle, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15, in the UAAP Season 81 volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Koyfman, who skipped last season due to an illness, scored 15 points in the Blue Eagles’ first match without five-time MVP Marck Espejo and star setter Ish Polvorosa.
John Rivera and Chumason Njigha had 10 points each, Ron Medalla had nine points, 10 digs and 10 excellent receptions, while Lawrence Gil Magadia had 32 excellent sets.
The Blue Eagles scored 13 straight points in the third set to erase an 8-10 deficit and take a 21-10 lead.
“Noong first two sets, everyone was waiting for someone to work hard, someone to initiate the energy, the intensity inside the court,” said Ateneo coach Timmy Sto. Tomas, who took over from Oliver Almadro who was moved to the women’s team.
“Buti na lang noong third set, everyone stepped up. I wasn't expecting na lalayo kami that far. Di sila nag-give up, and 'yun nga, nakuha nila yung groove nila inside the court.”
“It’s a morale-booster for the team. Especially people are saying na, since wala na si Marck or wala na si Ish, how will you get scores, how will you score points. I was able to instill to them na this time, it will be a collective effort,” he added.
Ateneo guns for its second straight win against UST on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
Chris Dumago scored 12 points for LaSalle.
Meanwhile, Paolo Pablico scored 23 points as Adamson University defeated University of Sto. Tomas, 33-31, 23-25, 16-25, 25-15, 16-14.
Leo Miranda delivered 13 points, Mark Alvarez scored nine and George Labang Jr. had eight hits.