Down two sets to one, the Business and Management (BM) Vipers went to the distance in keeping their undefeated record clean in the Palarong Atenista 2022 after outlasting the 4-peat-seeking School of Engineering (SEA) Tigers in five grueling sets; 19-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 15-11 in the finals.
Needing just three points to clinch the title, Vipers setter and team captain Nathaniel Chris Hipolito took charge and punctuated a mega rally with a booming kill of his own as they distanced themselves 13-10 in the fifth set.
A service error from the Vipers inched the Tigers closer, but veteran Hipolito once again steered them closer to the cusp of gold after sending a wayward reception to an empty corner pocket of the Tigers’ side.
The jam-packed Martin Hall erupted as Paulo Dela Cruz’s down-the-line spike sealed the deal for the Vipers, 15-11.
Already neck and neck right from the first whistle, both squads refused to lose long rallies, traded kills, and scrappy floor defense before the Tigers drew first blood thanks to their loaded serves and combination plays.
Eventually, the Vipers found their groove by minimizing their errors, aggressive floor defense, and consistent passing, which allowed them to tow the Tiger’s tall presence at the net like a well-oiled machine.
“Very worth it ang game. Di namin gina-expect na ganito ka hyped. The EA clearly had more supporters. So, it’s really worth it that we won and I’m really thankful for all those who supported and those who even jeered,” the Vipers’ team captain Nathaniel Cris Hipolito told Atenews.
Hipolito also shared that the finals match was where they felt challenged the most, as they dominated all games previously in a lopsided fashion, including a straight-set stomping of the Tigers early in the eliminations.
“The reason why we won is that we didn’t focus too much on our opponent. Instead, we just focused on our own game, what we lacked and what we needed to improve,” the Vipers’ libero Rysell Cris Villarte said.
In the awarding ceremony held last August 13, 2022, Hipolito took home the Most Valuable Player plum. Villarte also bagged the Best Libero award after a consistent stellar defensive performance. Lethal server Reiner Dela Cruz (BM) was also hailed as the Best Server.
Despite settling for silver, the Tigers managed to rack individual honors with Rayan Bantuas hailed as the Best Opposite Spiker, Wency Kyle Adlao as the Best Outside Spiker, Carl John Clarito as the Best Setter, and Xean Dominique Landong as the Best Middle Blocker.
The Social Sciences Dragons finished third place after dispatching the Accountancy Griffins in the tightly-contested bronze medal match.