Ateneo, Cignal, and Sta. Elena al clinched their respective quarterfinals slots in the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference with contrasting wins, Sunday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
In a thrilling contest, Chumason Njigha carried the Ateneo Blue Eagles on his back to escape the upset-seeking Easytrip Road Spikers in five sets, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 15-8.
Njigha fired eight points in the fifth frame to help the Blue Eagles take the top seed in Group B with a 4-0 record. The six-foot-three middle blocker finished the match with 25 points built on 15 hits, nine blocks, and an ace.
“Ever since naman, nilalagay ko na sa mind set ni Chumason [Njigha] yun na ‘you will be the one carrying this team’ when it matters most. Kung kailan kailangan ng puntos, alam niya na siya yung magse-step up,” said Ateneo head coach Timothy Sto. Tomas.
In the fifth set, Njigha scored three consecutive points to give Ateneo an early 3-1 advantage. It was all Ateneo from there, as Njigha put up the finishing touches and scored on back-to-back hits.
Ron Medalla chipped in 17 points in the win, while Sebastian Cuerva and Luis Ligot provided 11 and 10, respectively. Cuerva also tallied 10 excellent receptions and nine digs, while Lance De Castro finished the match with 20 receptions.
Ateneo missed the services of Kurt Aguilar and Canciano Lleno,s who are currently preparing for their stint in the UAAP Season 82 Beach Volleyball Tournament.
Easytrip, who dropped to an even 2-2 slate, were led by Mardy Galang with 16 points.
On the other hand, the HD Spikers made quick work of the Volleyball Never Stops Volleyball Club Griffins, 25-20, 25-19, 25-16.
“Gusto talaga namin makuha yung rank one eh. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘it’s a must win game’ kasi parehas walang talo, so kung sino mananalo dito posible na mag-rank one,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor.
Ysay Marasigan poured 16 points, while Rex Intal added 10 markers. The HD Spikers remain atop with a 4-0 standing, while also securing a quarterfinal berth.
Marck Espejo finished with nine points and seven excellent digs. Vince Mangulabnan churned the offense with 20 excellent sets in just three sets of play.
For the Griffins, no player reached double figures in scoring. Jeremy Merat finished with eight markers for VNS, who absorbed their first loss in three outings.
Earlier in the day, Nico Almendras and Edward Camposano propelled the Ball Hammers’ four-set victory over the University of Sto. Tomas Tiger Spikers, 25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 31-29, to punch their playoff ticket in Group D.
Almendras and Camposano fired 20 points apiece to help Sta. Elena notch their third straight win in as many outings.
“Natuto sila sa ganitong klaseng laban, although sanay naman kami diyan. Mas beterano kasi yung team namin kesa sa UST, so nung nakita nila na lumalaban yung kalaban, at least alam nila kung paano pigilan yung kalaban,” said Sta. Elena head coach Dong Dela Cruz
Joshua Retamar powered Sta. Elena’s offense with 26 excellent sets, while also tallying 10 excellent digs. Meanwhile, Banjo Mondero chipped in 12 markers and 17 excellent digs for Sta. Elena.
The troika of Lorenz Senoron, Genesis Redido, and Wewe Medina scored 12 points each for UST, who ended their Open Conference campaign with a 2-3 card.
The Tiger Spikers’ loss automatically gives the Philippine Navy an outright spot in the quarterfinals.