MANILA – In just an hour and 20 minutes, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws shattered the aura of invincibility that the Ateneo Blue Eagles had created around themselves for the past two years.
The Tamaraws swept the Blue Eagles, 25-18, 25-19, 25-22, in their first match of the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, needing just eighty minutes to complete the massive upset.
It marked the end of Ateneo’s remarkable 30-match winning streak. The Blue Eagles, three-time defending UAAP champions, have not lost a game since bowing to Adamson University in their third game of Season 78. They swept their way to the Season 79 crown in one of the most dominant runs in men’s volleyball.
This is also the first time that FEU had beaten Ateneo since the first round of UAAP Season 76. Before Sunday’s upset, the Blue Eagles have trounced FEU for eight straight matches.
“Pinaghirapan namin lahat ‘yun,” FEU coach Reynaldo Diaz Jr. told reporters after the game. “Pinaghirapan naming lahat.”
“Kanina nga, pinag-uusapan namin kung kailan ba huling nanalo ang FEU sa Ateneo? So isa siya sa motivation na ginamit namin,” he added.
The Tamaraws set the tone right in the opening set, when they led by as much as 10 points, 21-11, then overcame a quick start by the Blue Eagles in the second frame.
In the nip-and-tuck third frame, the Tamaraws proved to be more composed, with Jude Garcia firing the finishing kill against the Blue Eagles.
JP Bugaoan led FEU with 13 points on 10 attacks and three blocks, while Garcia had 11 points and skipper Richard Solis added 10 markers.
The Tamaraws outgunned the Blue Eagles, 37-28, on attacks, and had a 10-5 advantage on blocks.
Four-time MVP Marck Espejo scored all 12 of his points on attacks, but was far from his best as he connected on only 12 of 40 hits. No other Ateneo player scored in double-digits. The Blue Eagles’ new middle blockers, Gian Gloriosao and Chumason Njigha, combined for only seven points in their first game as starters.