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Tiebreaker Times


NU-Sta Elena overcomes Cignal, bags Spikers’ Turf Invitational crown

Sta.Elena-National U dealt Cignal the heartbreaks of heartbreaks to win the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference championship.

The Nationals denied the HD Spikers of a dream 2023 season by capturing the one-game title duel with a display of mental toughness in five nail-biting sets, 22-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 15-8, on Friday evening at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

This is National U’s second championship in the country’s men’s premier league after its 2022 Open Conference crown won also at the expense of Cignal.

“Sobrang memorable ito sa akin kasi sabi ko nga pumunta kami sa Spikers’ Turf maganda yung simula namin pero kalagitnaan medyo struggle talaga kami, natamaan kami ng injuries talaga,” said Nationals head coach Dante Alinsunurin on this sweet championship.

“Nagmaximize lang talaga kami sa kung anong dapat gawin sa ganitong sitwasyon. Buti nakasurvive kami sa liga na ito, importante rin sa akin na nakuha namin ito kasi ito [yung nagpapatunay] na ang NU volleyball program paangat na nang paangat.”

Entering the championship game, the HD Spikers were an immaculate 10-0 this conference, looking to complete a 2023 season sweep after going 15-0 in the Open Conference last March. However, the Nationals had other plans.

Ahead by just a point in the fourth frame, 22-21, the open spikers of NU came through as Nico Almendras and Jade Disquitado hammered three kills to force a decider, 25-22.

Then Disquitado, playing in his first conference with the Nationals, wreaked havoc in the final period, scoring four points in their 11-5 dominant start with contributions also coming from Almendras and errors from their foes.

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It was Leo Aringo who nailed the championship point by straight-up blocking HD Spiker Jau Umandal for the crown after two hours and 13 minutes of action.

“Itong Finals MVP siguro bonus na lang ito kasi yung goal talaga namin ay mag champion talaga. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Lord kasi binigay niya sa amin yung championship at nakuha ko itong MVP,” said Disquitado, the newly-minted Finals MVP after dropping a career-high 34 points.

Almendras, who joined the team late in this conference after coming off a long rest, delivered 20 points, 22 excellent receptions, and five digs, while Aringo added 10 points.

Cignal, on the other hand, was led by Umandal with 23 points and 25 receptions.

JP Bugaoan chipped in 20 points while Ysay Marasigan uncorked 17 points of his own but the HD Spikers fell short in their first conference without Marck Espejo, who is playing as an import for Incheon Jumbos in the Korean Volleyball League.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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