National University-Sta. Elena inched closer to a Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Finals berth after sweeping top-seed PGJC-Navy, 25-21, 25-17, 26-24, Saturday at the Paco Arena.
The Nationals, who also defeated the Sealions back in the eliminations, rose to 2-0 and will face VNS-One Alicia on Tuesday at 2:30 pm.
“Credit sa players ko kita na gustong-gusto talaga nila manalo this game. Para sa mga bata ito kasi talagang ‘yung hardwork since first day ng practice namin, bumabalik sa kanila,” said NU-Sta. Elena head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
Obed Mukaba and Joshua Retamar flashed their late-game brilliance for the Nationals in the first set, conniving on a 4-1 blast to take the early lead, 25-21.
NU-Sta. Elena then raced to a quick 8-3 start in the second frame on the way to a dominant 25-17 tally to move on the verge of a sweep.
PGJC-Navy though had its own strong opening in the third, thanks to the resurgence of Joeven dela Vega, but faltered late as Retamar and Nico Almendras joined hands to lift the Nationals to the straight-sets victory.
“Sabi ko sa kanila kalimutan an ‘yung mga unang puntos sa third set, basta magfocus lang. Buti nakacatch up kami sa offense namin saka bumalik din ‘yung blocking namin,” added Alinsunurin.
Almendras followed up his 30-point effort against Cignal in their last game with 16 points to lead NU-Sta. Elena anew, while Mukaba scattered 14 points on eight attacks, three blocks, and three aces.
Retamar shone with 21 excellent sets to go with seven points including three kill blocks.
Sealions’ main gunner Jao Umandal was limited to a conference-low 10 points but was active defensively with 21 excellent receptions and 10 digs.
Dela Vega was on fire since the moment he was subbed in the second period and finished with a team-high 15 points.
Meanwhile, PGJC-Navy got its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 1-1 and will clash with second-ranked Cignal at 5:30 pm on the last day of the round-robin semifinals.