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NU-Sta. Elena nears Finals

National University-Sta. Elena repeatedly simulated in training how to stop the dangerous hitters of PGJC-Navy.

Every ounce of preparation and planning the Nationals plotted came into fruition Saturday as NU-Sta. Elena stepped a foot closer to securing a seat in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference best-of-three Finals while putting an end to the Sealions’ five-game winning streak.

The Nationals’ blocking proved to be crucial in their masterful, 25-21, 25-17, 26-24, victory over the Sealions for a 2-0 win-loss slate in the round-robin semifinals at the Paco Arena.

“We studied their game and after our training, we discussed ways to beat them. I’m just glad that we were able to execute our game plan, especially our blocking,” said NU-Sta. Elena setter Owa Retamar.

NU-Sta. Elena can clinch the championship seat with another win on Tuesday against VNS One-Alicia.

Retamar dished out 21 excellent sets to go with seven points highlighted by three kill blocks for the Nationals, who tallied a total of 12 kill blocks.

Nico Almedras led all scorers with 16 points anchored on 13 attacks including the game-clinching hit and added six digs for NU-Sta. Elena, which duplicated its elimination round win over Navy.

Congolese Obed Mukaba scored 14 while Jenngerard Diao finished with nine for the Nationals.

The Sealions gave NU-Sta. Elena a scare in the third set, snipping down a 16-20 deficit to tie the frame at 22.

Retamar broke the tie with a hit before Joshua Umandal scored on an off the block hit for a 23-all deadlock. Almendras put the Nationals at match point only for Mukaba to commit a service error for a 24-24 deuce.

Greg Dolor missed an opportunity for Navy to steal the momentum with an attack error as Almendras capped the victory.

“Credit to my players. They really wanted this win,” said NU-Sta. Elena coach Dante Alinsunurin.

Joeven Dela Vega had 15 points while league-leading scorer Umandal was silenced to eight markers in a quiet 8-of-24 spiking clip for the Sealions, who fell to 1-1 card.

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