NU-Sta. Elena dethrones Cignal to claim Spikers’ Turf crown

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Michaelo Buddin and Nico Almendras lead NU-Sta. Elena Nationals to the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. –SPIKERS TURF PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Michaelo Buddin stepped up when it mattered most in the crucial moments of Finals Game 2 as National University-Sta. Elena dethroned Cignal, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, to complete a series sweep and claim the 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference supremacy on Saturday at Paco Arena.

When the Nationals went down 20-22 in the fourth set, the rookie outside spiker took matters into his own hands as he scored three of the last five points, including the championship-clinching attack to deny the HD Spikers from forcing a decider and end their two-conference reign.

Buddin scored back-to-back clutch attacks to give NU a 23-22 advantage before Peter Torres stopped the bleeding for Cignal and tied the set. However, a crucial violation from the HD Spikers pushed the Nationals at matchpoint, 24-23, as Buddin ended the two-hour and 21-minute match with a kill off the block.

The NU-Nazareth School standout claimed the Finals MVP as he delivered 22 points off 20 attacks, to go with 14 receptions. He matched his scoring output in Game 1, where they took down Cignal, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, last Thursday.

NU-Sta. Elena Nationals clinch the Spikers' Turf Open Conference title

NU-Sta. Elena Nationals clinch the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. –SPIKERS TURF PHOTO

Nico Almendras, the Conference MVP, chipped in 18 points, while the league’s best setter Joshua Retamar dished out 20 excellent sets on top of seven markers.

Kennry Malinis also delivered for Sta. Elena with 10 points, as Best Middle Blocker Obed Mukaba had four blocks to finish with six markers.

It was Sta. Elena’s first Spikers’ Turf franchise title since joining the league in 2015.

NU coach Dante Alinsunurin had a masterful conference despite fielding a collegiate team as they won five of their six elimination matches with one loss to Cignal. They swept the three-game semifinals round before claiming the championship with another clean record.

Cignal gave up 31 errors in the match as it settled for silver for the first time since 2018.

Best Opposite Spiker Ysay Marasigan led Cignal with 17 points built on 11 attacks, four blocks, and two aces. Marck Espejo had 16 points and 17 receptions, while Louie Ramirez and JP Bugaoan added 16 and 12 markers, respectively.

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