National University Archipelago ended its five-game slump with a solid four-set romp over the Philippine Army, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-18, and notched its first win in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference, Sunday at the Paco Arena Events and Sports Center in Manila.
The Builders started strong in that final set, with its net defense on point and denying the Troopers, a 16-10 cushion. From there, the wards of coach Dante Alinsunurin left no stone unturned and pocketed the victory with a Rwenzmel Taguibolos ace.
“Masaya kasi ang ano ko lang naman sa mga bata na makakuha ng experience yung kumpyansa nila sa laro. Maganda yung pinakita nila mula first hanggang fourth set. Lahat ng mga unforced errors namin nung mga past games namin, napakita namin na kaya pala talaga nilang gawin,” Alinsunurin said.
Mac Bandola, a former Nazareth School of National University standout, filled the stat sheets on his all-around play with 18 points on 12 attacks, five service aces, and one block. The outside hitter also had three digs and 12 excellent receptions.
Middle hitters Taguibolos and Leo Ordiales added 11 and 12 markers, respectively.
NU Archipelago and Army battle it out in the first set, but the youngins from the former eventually found their rhythm in the middle part of the frame. Outside hitter Llanfred Abanilla then pocketed the set for the Builders with an off-the-block hit, 25-21.
The Builders used that huge opening run in the second set, dominating Army at the start towards the second technical timeout at 16-10 with Bandola taking care of business on the service line. The squad then needed to fend off a furious rally from the opponents before Taguibolos ended the set at the net, 25-17, to go within a set for this maiden win.
The Troopers had other plans after a last-ditch comeback from the Builders see their 16-13 lead vanish into a 21-all deadlock. PJ Rojas and Ken Baloaloa turned out to be the game-changers as Rojas kept Army above water before Baloaloa’s serve could not get a return from the opponents, sealing the set for Army.
Benjaylo Labide was the only Trooper in double figures with 14 points, all coming from attacks, while opposite hitter Mark Enciso was limited to eight points.
NU (1-5) will try to build a winning streak when it takes on the Santa Rosa City Lions (3-5) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. On the other hand, the Philippine Army (4-5) will try to save its Final Four hopes against Volleyball Never Stops (4-3) on March 15 at 3 p.m.
Both matches will still be played at the same Paco venue.