By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The National University-Sta. Elena capped off its magical 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference campaign with a championship title after ousting the reigning kings Cignal HD Spikers, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23.
Aside from dethroning the champions, the NU-Sta. Elena proved to be the league’s streak-stoppers after halting Cignal’s three-year dominance in the Spikers’ Turf.
The HD Spikers never lost a championship series since 2019 and were also gunning for history to win three straight championship trophies in the Spikers’ Turf volleyball league.
However, the youngsters from NU-Sta. Elena had other plans and put up one of the most masterful performances in men’s volleyball history.
The young core of NU-Sta. Elena fought toe-to-toe against the majority of the members of the Philippine national team and outdueled Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan, Peter Torres, and Manuel Sumanguid in two sweeping games of the best-of-three grand finals.
Conference Most Valuable Player (MVP) Nico Almendras of NU-Sta. Elena picked up where he left off and finished the finals with 18 points built from 16 successful attacks.
It was a collective effort for the young NU squad as the duo of Buds Buddin and Obed Mukaba backstopped Almendras with 22 and 14 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, sensational setter Joshua Retamar orchestrated NU-Sta. Elena’s offense to perfection for the second-straight game and dished out 20 excellent sets including seven crucial points.
The HD Spikers put up a valiant fight during the last two sets after taking the early leads but failed to hold on and contain the blazing NU-Sta. Elena offense.
During the bronze medal match, the PGCJ-Navy team took down VNS-One Alicia, 26-28, 25-18, 25-16, 25-23.
Ronniel Rosales took charge for the Navy team and dropped 15 points in the contest while the duo of Greg Dolor and Peter Quiel shouldered the offensive load in the last two sets.