Sta. Elena-National U scratched and clawed its way in the first three sets before rolling to victory in the fourth as it downed Saints and Lattes-Letran, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 25-13, on Friday and cracked the win column in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference semifinals at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
After the first three sets were decided by no more than six points, marred by a loss in the second, the Nationals responded to coach Dante Alinsunurin’s wake-up call with Jade Disquitado, Nico Almendras and Obed Mukaba anchoring their remarkable turnaround to secure a convincing 12-point win in the fourth.
Ahead by just a point early in the fourth, 9-8, the Nationals went to Disquitado, Almendras and Mukaba, who took charge to deliver the hits almost in succession, leading to their victory in one hour and 41 minutes.
NU thus tied Letran at 1-1 as the Saints Spikers fell short of duplicating their four-set reversal over the NCAA champion Perpetual-Kinto Altas last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Letran, and Cignal and guest team Maruichi Hyogo from Japan, which were playing at presstime, show their stamina as they play back-to-back games with action shifting to the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Saints and the Spikers and the HD Spikers collide in the 9 a.m. opener of a twinbill that also features the Maruichi Hyogo-Perpetual match at 11 a.m.
The Spikers’ Turf games will also serve as appetizer for the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference semifinals pitting Choco Mucho versus Cignal at 4 p.m. and Creamline against Chery Tiggo at 6 p.m.
National U actually initially stamped its class in the opening frame but momentarily lapsed into complacency, enabling the Saints Spikers to counter and level the game. However, the reigning UAAP titlists secured a hard-fought win in the pivotal third set then carried the momentum into the fourth.
The match also featured a fair share of miscues from both sides with NU committing 28 and Letran posting 25 errors.
Disquitado topscored for the Nationals with 19 points while Almendras notched 15 points and produced 21 excellent receptions.
Joshua Retamar came through with a 29-excellent set game, majority of which Disquitado, Almendras, Mukaba, Rwenzmel Taguibolos and Leo Ordiales translated into hits.
Taguibolos and Ordiales finished with 11 points each.
Leading the way for Letran were Vince Himzon and Rylie Sta. Maria with 12 points apiece as Bembem Bautista, who had 24 points in the Saint Spikers’ win over Perpetual last Wednesday, struggled for just eight points.