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Spikers Turf: Almendras drops 30 points as NU gets back at Cignal to open semis


Sweet was the revenge for National University-Sta. Elena, turning back elimination round tormentor Cignal in five sets, 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10, Thursday night in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinals at the Paco Arena.

Nico Almendras and Michaelo Buddin chipped in four points apiece in the Nationals’ 13-6 start in the fifth set before Louie Ramirez tried to spark a comeback for the HD Spikers, 10-13.

But Kennry Malinis hammered a down-the-line hit and erased Ramirez’s attempt for the win.

“Sinwerte rin kami noong bandang huli although ‘yung first at second sets, talagang pinupush ko ‘yung mga bata na makakuha lang kami ng momentum, mag-iiba na,” said NU-Sta. Elena head coach Dante Alinsunurin.

Errors doomed the Nationals in the first set as they gave away three points in the HD Spikers’ 5-1 closing blast, 25-20.

JP Bugaoan then starred in the second frame as Cignal ended NU-Sta. Elena on a 4-1 spurt. The middle blocker from Far Eastern University had three of those from blocks, pushing the score to 25-22.

Nico Almendras then willed the Nationals in the third canto, scoring a down-the-line kill to extend the match, 25-23.

Ahead 22-21 in the fourth, an Almendras hit coupled with Marck Espejo’s errors pushed the game to a decider.

Almendras exploded for 30 points on 26 attacks and four blocks, while Buddin unloaded 23 points. The former also had 11 excellent receptions while the latter tallied 16.

Espejo still led Cignal with 22 points built on 15 spikes, six aces, and a block. He also had 20 excellent receptions and four digs.

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The Nationals will break their early tie at the top with PGJC-Navy on Saturday, 2:30 PM. Later that day, the HD Spikers look to get back on track against VNS-One Alicia at 5:30 PM.

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