National U-Sta. Elena set up a winner-take-all date with Cignal after a convincing straight sets win against Japanese guest team Maruichi, 25-19, 25-20, 25-18, in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference, Monday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The one-off title bout will be on Friday, 5:30 p.m., at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
The Nationals finished the round-robin semifinals with a 3-1 record with a 2.25 set ratio. Even if third-running Saints and Lattes-Letran (2-1) sweeps the HD Spikers tomorrow to force a triple tie atop the five-team field, it will fall short of the tiebreak system as its best finish would be at a 2.0 set ratio.
“Kailangan lang talaga namin magfocus ulit sa ginagawa namin. Syempre gusto namin manalo, makuha yung championship ulit dito sa Spikers’ Turf,” said National U head coach Dante Alinsunurin on their one game battle for the crown.
Nico Almendras continued his reemergence for the Nationals with 13 points while Jade Disquitado and Rwenzmel Taguibolos added 11 points apiece.
Michaelo Buddin missed his fourth straight game for the Nationals due to a sprained right ankle. It remains to be seen if he can play on Friday.
“Thankful ako sa naging performance ngayon kasi although malikot yung kalaban namin, nagawa pa rin namin yung gusto naming gawin sa loob ng court like yung floor defense namin, yung blocking namin,” added Alinsunurin, who also coaches Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League.
National U held its errors to just 12.
Kyosuke Kashimoto paced Maruichi with 17 points on 14 attacks, two blocks, and a service ace, while Yuji Kawagoe supplied 10 points, 15 excellent receptions, and six digs.
The Hyogo selection team will wrap up their semis campaign here in the country’s men’s premier league tomorrow at 11 a.m. opposite fellow winless team Perpetual-Kinto Tyres. The winner will advance to the battle for third place.