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Smooth semis ride takes Nationals to final’s door

‘I think our timing and level of play are already improving.’

Games Monday:

(Philsports Arena)

3:30 p.m. — Cignal vs Perpetual

5:30 p.m. — Sta. Elena-NU vs Maruichi Hyogo


Sta. Elena-National University got its momentum going early on to cruise past University of Perpetual Help System Dalta-Kinto Tyres, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21, and boost its championship berth hopes in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference semifinals Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Playing with better cohesion and aggressiveness compared to their first two matches in the round-robin semis, the Nationals pulled off a second straight win in three matches.

“I think our timing and level of play are already improving. Although we still commit a lot of unforced errors, our timing both on offense and floor defense is getting better,” a more relaxed Sta. Elena-NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin said.

Veteran winger Nico Almendras led three other Nationals in double figures with 14 points built on 11 kills, two aces and a kill block. He added 12 excellent receptions for Sta. Elena-NU, which took the match in one hour and 24 minutes despite throwing away 25 points off errors.

Leo Ordiales got 12 markers and four digs while Jade Disquitado and Rwenzmel Taguibolos chipped in with 10 points each as the Nationals handed the Altas their second loss in as many games.

Meanwhile, Saint and Lattes-Letran returned to the win column at the expense of winless Japanese team Maruichi Hyogo, 23-25, 25-13, 25-23, 25-20, for a 2-1 win-loss record.

The Saints Spikers had a hard time shaking off the guest squad as they yielded the opening frame with a late game meltdown.

Saint and Lattes-Letran buckled down on its net defense for an easy equalizer in the next set before holding on in the next two frames to claim the victory that pushed them closer to a spot in the knockout championship on 15 December at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Vince Himzon was active at the net scoring five kill blocks to finish with 21 points. Himzon also pounded 15 kills and landed an ace.

John Derrick Bautista and Steven Sta. Maria fired 15 markers each while Felix Bermido had 11 for the Saint Spikers, who rebounded from a four-set loss to the Nationals the day before.

Both the Perpetual-Kinto Tyres and Maruichi Hyogo are in danger of missing the finals cut with identical 0-2 cards.

No Altas player reached double-digit scoring with Jefferson Marapoc limited to just eight points while reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player was shackled to a paltry seven markers as starter in all sets.

Yuji Kawagoe, on the other hand, saw his game-high 24 points down the drain with another painful defeat. Hinara Kuroda got 18 markers while Shoka Harada had nine for Maruichi Hyogo.


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