Nationals inch closer to Spikers’ Turf finals
With everything working on both ends, National U-Sta. Elena on Saturday inched a step closer to the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title series after dismantling PGKC-Navy, 25-21, 25-17, 26-24, at Paco Arena in Manila.
Nico Almendras picked up from where he left off in a five-set win over defending champion Cignal on Thursday, drilling in 16 points built on 13 kills as the Nationals virtually earned at least a playoff for the second championship slot with their second win in the single round robin.
The Sealions, who came into the match as the slight favorites owing to a five-game winning streak, dropped to 1-1.
Star playmaker Joshua Retamar was also impressive with 21 excellent sets while scoring seven points, including three blocks. The Nationals will try to avoid complications of a playoff when they gun for a sweep Tuesday against VNS-One Alicia at 2:30 p.m.
“We really studied their (Navy) game. After practice (last Friday), we talked about our strategy on how to beat them,” Retanar said in Filipino. “I’m glad that our practice paid off. We executed well.”
The loss dropped Navy to 1-1, into a tie with Cignal, which demolished VNS-One Alicia, 25-20, 26-24, 25-18, later to stay in the title series race.
The Sealions clash with Cignal at 5:30 p.m. also Tuesday.
“Credit to the boys, they really wanted to win. It’s all hard work,” said Sta. Elena coach Dante Alinsunurin. “These young players have been really hard workers since the first day of our practice. Now, it’s paying off for them.”
The Sealions also had 40 attack points, but the difference came in the kill blocks where NU had 12, nine more than the seasoned Navy crew.
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