Defense at the net earns first win for Ateneo over LPU Pirates

THE ATENEO Blue Eagles started their pre-season campaign with a four-set win over Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates in four sets, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-16, in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila.

Freshman starting libero Lance de Castro recorded 16 excellent digs and 15 excellent receives in his debut for the Blue and White. Ron Medalla racked up 13 spikes and two service aces to lead the team. Ateneo dealt 11 kill blocks with Kurt Aguilar and Chu Njigha combining for eight. 

Ateneo capitalized on poor defense from Lyceum in the first set, but attack errors of their own surrendered an early lead by the second technical timeout (TTO), 14-16. Lyceum slowly built their lead before three consecutive kill blocks by Njigha and an off-the-block kill by Medalla ended the set, 25-23. 

Lyceum had no answers for the Blue Eagles early in the second set as the Blue Eagles enjoyed a sizable lead entering the second TTO, 16-9. The Katipunan-based squad held momentum for the entire set despite a few attack errors, and Aguilar took set point with a spike into the late triple block, 25-20.

The third set was disastrous for the Blue Eagles as multiple errors saw them down by five at the first TTO, 3-8. A powerful quick by Njigha reduced the deficit to four, 11-15. The Blue Eagles were forced to call a timeout later on after a long back row attack by Medalla, 12-18. Further errors plagued the Blue Eagles and they surrendered setpoint to a drop ball, 18-25.

The fourth set started off as a tight battle, but a 3-0 run entering the first TTO gave Ateneo the lead, 8-5, and a cross-court kill by Aguilar put Ateneo up by five, 16-11. More errors prevented Lyceum from mounting a comeback and Aguilar eventually took match point with a kill block, 25-16.

After the game, Medalla noted the challenge to step up from Coach Timothy Sto. Thomas. ”Kailangan ko lang i-fill yung pagkukulang ng mga grumaduate sa amin, so ako na yung mag-step up dapat (I just need to fill the void the graduates left, so I'm the one who's supposed to step up),” said the graduating open spiker. 

The Blue Eagles are set to face Eco Oil on Sunday, September 15, at 1:00 PM at the same venue.

Set Score:

Ateneo-Lyceum: 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-16

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