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Nationals shoot for Spikers’ Turf crown

Games Saturday:
(Paco Arena)
2:30 p.m. — PGJC-Navy vs VNS
5:30 p.m. — NU-Sta. Elena vs Cignal


National University-Sta. Elena goes for the jugular when it returns to court Saturday against defending champion Cignal for Game 2 of their the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference best-of-three finals series at the Paco Arena in Manila.

Smelling blood after taking the opener on Thursday, the Nationals are out to finish off the wounded HD Spikers in the 5:30 p.m. encounter.

“We will stick to our mindset right from the start, our goal is to become champions and we will get it,” NU-Sta. Elena coach Dante Alinsunurin said.

The Nationals mentor is putting his faith on starters Nico Almedras, Michaelo Buddin, Congolese Obed Mukaba, and top setter Owa Retamar to close out the championship series.

Buddin and Almendras uncorked 22 and 20 points, respectively, to tow NU-Sta. Elena to a stunning 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, win over the more experienced Cignal squad.

Mukaba is again expected to take charge of clogging the net just like what he did the last time when he registered five of the team’s 14 kill blocks.

However, there would be some concerns about Retamar’s condition as the playmaker suffered leg cramps in the fourth set of Game 1.

Despite having their backs against the wall, HD Spikers mentor Dexter Clamor remains optimistic about extending the series.

He, however, emphasized the need for his wards to bring back the same aggressiveness and focus that has been key in their previous conquests.

“It’s very obvious that NU has talented outside hitters and it reflects on the stats sheet. What we need to do is to step up on our blocking and stop their hitters,” he said.

“On offense, we need to bring back our system. Admittedly, I didn’t see that in our first game,” Clamor added.

Cignal stars Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan, JP Bugaoan and Louie Ramirez must bring their A-game to force a series decider on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, PGJC-Navy seeks to formally claim the bronze medal in Game 2 of the battle for third against VNS One-Alicia at 2:30 p.m.

The Sealions swept the Griffins, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21, in their series opener.

In case VNS wins the match and the finals series ends in two games, the third place winner will be decided via FIVB tiebreak.

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