NU-Sta. Elena shocks Cignal in Spikers’ Turf semis opener

NU-Sta. Elena upsets Cignal in their first game of the Spikers’ Turf round-robin semifinals. (Spikers’ Turf photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Young volleyball squad National University-Sta. Elena isn’t done turning heads after stunning the defending champions Cignal HD Spikers in five grueling sets, 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10, to kick off their 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinal campaign.

After trailing two sets to none against the more experienced team composed of former national team members, the NU-Sta. Elena spikers showed poise under pressure and played disciplined volleyball for three straight sets to complete the comeback.

Nico Almendras was a man on a mission and sparked the NU-Sta. Elena team with a 30-point eruption built from 26 successful attacks and four blocks.

Backstopping Almendras was Mike Buddin who played a vital role in the last two sets and finished with 23 points and 16 excellent receptions.

Aside from the scoring efforts of Almendras and Buddin, NU’s superstar setter Joshua Retamar also played one of his best games of the conference and orchestrated the Sta. Elena offense with 22 excellent sets.

It was all Cignal in the first two sets of the encounter and were looking to sweep NU-Sta. Elena after taking the early lead in the third but disaster struck after the duo of Almendras and Buddin torched the HD Spikers.

Every time the HD Spikers built a mini offensive run in the last two sets, NU-Sta. Elena came right back and was ready for answers.

It was Cignal’s second surprising meltdown of the conference after also giving up a 2-0 lead against the PGCJ-Navy during the regular season.

Marck Espejo led the HD Spikers with 22 points and 20 excellent receptions while co-stars Louie Ramirez and Ysay Marasigan had 18 and 13 points, respectively.

The HD Spikers will have the chance to bounce back in the round-robin semifinals when they square off against VNS-One Alicia today at 5:30 PM.


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