National University-Sta. Elena finally claimed sweet revenge over Ateneo-Fudgee Barr in the form of a straight-set win, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23, in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference at the Paco Arena, Sunday.
The Nationals had been waiting for the chance to get one over the Blue Eagles after they suffered a crucial loss versus their UAAP rival in the elimination round of the 2023 V-League Collegiate Challenge last September 13.
NU seized control of the top spot in Pool A and remained the only unbeaten team in the group with a 2-0 standing.
“Deserved talaga nila (ng mga players) yung win namin kasi trinabaho namin simula umpisa hanggang sa dulo. Yun lang, nakuha ng mga bata kasi talagang pinaghandaan namin ‘tong game na ‘to,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
Ateneo posed a great challenge to NU in the third set but Rwenzmel Taguibolos’ back-to-back rejections on Omar Okeke allowed the Nationals to mount a quick 3-0 spurt that turned a 19-20 disadvantage to a 22-20 lead.
Both teams exchanged hits from there before Michaelo Buddin scored the final two points for NU to finish the match after an hour and 29 minutes of game time.
“Kailangan tuluy-tuloy kami eh para pagdating sa gusto talaga naming sitwasyon, makuha namin,” added Alinsunurin.
The Nationals missed the services of veterans Nico Almendras and Owa Retamar, who were both out due to different reasons. Almendras is tending to personal matters in Batangas while Retamar slipped in during one of the team’s training sessions.
With the two out, Leo Aringo and Buddin took care of business and tallied 17 and 16 points, respectively, to help NU get the victory. Aringo had 14 attacks and three blocks while Buddin had 13 attacks and three blocks as well.
Jade Disquitado added nine points while middle blockers Taguibolos and Obed Mukaba had six and four points, respectively.
Clarenz Belostrino, who filled in for Retamar, made a good account of himself with 16 excellent sets while Jann Sumagui collected nine excellent digs and seven excellent receptions while manning the floor.
NU takes on Don Pacundo-DLSU D on Friday, 1:00 p.m. at the same venue.
Kennedy Batas led Ateneo with 14 points on 10 attacks, two blocks, and two aces while Aimar Okeke had 12 points and seven excellent receptions.
Lorenzo Guttierez, who had five excellent sets, injured his left knee late in the third set with NU up, 24-22, after attempting to save the ball. He did not return to the contest.
The Blue Eagles slid to the second spot, tied with Iloilo, Kinto Tyres-Perpetual, and Philippine Army with 1-1 records.
Ateneo will aim to bounce back against Army on Sunday, 3:00 p.m.