MANILA – National University (NU)-Sta. Elena is on the cusp of winning the 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title.
This after the Nationals eked out a 25-21, 25-20, 25-23, 25-18 victory over the veteran Cignal HD Spikers in Game 1 of their finals series at the Paco Arena, Thursday.
Michaelo Buddin spearheaded NU with 22 markers, including three blocks, while Nico Almendras contributed 20 points for 1-0 finals lead.
Down by three early in the fourth, NU slowly found its rhythm, while benefitting from Cignal’s string of errors to overtake them, 12-11.
Their lead was further stretched to 16-12 as Obed Mukaba made his presence felt at the net while Buddin added an ace.
The HD Spikers tried to mount a comeback as Ysay Marasigan put the team, 17-19, off a power push. But Almendras iced the mini run with back-to-back hits, 21-17.
A block by Buddin to Marasigan put NU-Sta. Elena at match point, 24-18.
After Cignal equalized the match at 1-1, NU showed composure in the tight third set, stealing the lead from their opponent after a block by Jenngerard Diao, 16-15.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle until the last part of the set, but Almendras provided crucial hits to give the Nationals a 24-22 lead.
Buddin ended the set with a through-the-block spike and gave NU a 2-1 advantage.