National University-Sta. Elena has yet to reach its full potential despite besting the country’s top club team led by national team standouts including superstar Marck Espejo.
The Nationals, composed of virtually the NU Bulldogs core who will defend their University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s volleyball title a few months from now, dethroned Cignal in a championship series sweep to capture the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference crown Saturday.
NU-Sta. Elena dropped only one match during the whole conference.
However, Best Setter winner Owa Retamar thought that the team could do better as they move closer to the UAAP Season 85 second semester center-piece tournament slated early next year.
“We’re just at 60 percent of our full potential,” Retamar, who averaged 4.95 excellent sets per frame during the eliminations, said.
“We still need to improve on a lot of things, especially our service game. We have lapses in our blockings so I would say we are still at 60 percent.”
Despite this, the Bulldogs looked poised to dominate the UAAP in their three-peat bid when men’s volleyball action returns after three years of a halt due to the pandemic.
Proof of this was the way NU-Sta. Elena waylaid a veteran-laden team in the HD Spikers.
The crew of Retamar, Conference Most Valuable Player Nico Almendras and young guns Michaelo Buddin and Congolese middle blocker Obed Mukaba proved too much even for the once mighty Cignal.
NU-Sta. Elena fashioned out a 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23 win in Game 2 of the Finals to stamp its class over Cignal just two days after taking the opener, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18.
The Dante Alinsunurin-mentored squad has committed to join the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference scheduled this month as well as other pocket tournaments as part of NU’s buildup for the UAAP.
“We still have a few more months to prepare. Hopefully, we’ll reach 100 percent before the UAAP starts,” Retamar said.