MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) National University (NU)-Sta. Elena completed a sweep of the semifinals in the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference after defeating VNS-One Alicia in four sets, Tuesday at the Paco Arena.
The Nationals pounced on the Griffins' error-prone ways to snatch a 25-17, 20-25, 25-21, 27-25 victory. They completed a 3-0 sweep of the semis and barged into the championship series with plenty of momentum.
Cignal HD and Navy will dispute the last spot in the finals at 5:30 p.m., also on Tuesday afternoon.
Veteran Nico Almendras did the heavy lifting for NU-Sta. Elena, scoring 26 points on 23 kills. Obed Mukaba contributed 14 points, and Michaelo Budding rebounded from a shaky start to finish with 13 points.
"Deserving talaga 'yung team na makuha 'yung semifinals na lahat panalo. Siyempre, credit sa mga player ko na ginawa talaga nila 'yung best nila," NU-Sta. Elena head coach Dante Alinsunurin said.
After splitting the first two sets, NU-Sta. Elena had to hold on in the closing stretch of the third frame to take control of the match. They reached set point, 24-20, on a big hit by Almendras but Mukaba's service error kept VNS alive.
Almendras made sure that there would be no comeback for the Griffins, however, overpowering the VNS blockers in the next rally to give his team a 2-1 lead.
The Griffins were in control early in the fourth set, but their errors allowed the Nationals to catch up. Almendras was superb down the stretch again, firing the hit that forced a deuce, 24-all. A poor serve by Joshua Retamar shifted set point to VNS, but Ben San Andres gave the point right back with a service error of his own.
It turned out to be the first of three straight errors by the Griffins to end the match. Kevin Montemayor committed a hitting error to put NU-Sta. Elena at match point, 26-25, and a net touch on Ish Polvorosa sealed the deal for the Nationals.
"Masaya po kasi 'yung pinagtrabahuhan namin every day is hindi nasasayang. Lumalabas siya sa court 'pag naglalaro kami," said Retamar, who had 28 excellent sets.
Montemayor had 13 points, while San Andres and Michael Doria each scored 12 points for VNS. The Griffins committed 29 unforced errors in the loss.
VNS ended the semifinals with a 0-3 win-loss record.
The Spikers' Turf finals starts on Thursday, still at the Paco Arena.