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Ateneo, FEU near finals

Two-time defending champion Ateneo and Far Eastern University bested their respective semis yesterday and moved a win away from arranging a finals showdown in the men’s division of the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.

The Blue Eagles preserved their unbeaten run by dominating the University of Santo Tomas Tigers, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21, while the Tamaraws squeaked past National University Bulldogs with a hard-earned 25-22, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 16-14 triumph in Game 1 of their respective best-of-three semifinal series.

The top-seeded Ateneo took advantage of UST’s erratic plays, needing only 70 minutes to seal the deal.

Marck Espejo and Chumason Njigha joined forces for the Eagles with combined 21 points, including 12 kills, while teaming up for nine of Ateneo’s 11 blocks that hastened UST’s downfall.

Ishmael Rivera also added nine points while veteran Ish Polvorosa contributed 17 excellent sets as the Eagles stretched their winning run to eighth games in the conference.

What made it easier for Ateneo was UST’s 33 errors.

Arnold Bautista was the lone double figure scorer for UST with 10.

The Tamaraws, on the other hand, got timely hits from Redijohn Paler to outlast the Bulldogs.

Paler scored 16 of his 18 points on kills, while Richard Solis came off the bench to add 13.

Fauzi Ismail and Bryan Bagunas led NU with 26 and 21 points.

Ateneo and FEU can forge a best-of-three title clash if they prevail again on Saturday.