NU, Cignal eye semifinal entry

All eyes are set on National University-Sta. Elena middle Obed Mukaba (left) and setetr Joshua Retamar as the Nationals gun for a semifinals seat in the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference on Tuesday.

Unbeaten teams National-University-Sta. Elena and defending champion Cignal set their eyes on formally securing spots in the Final Four when they take on their respective foes Tuesday in the 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena.

The Nationals will try to ride the momentum of their hot winning streak against a feisty VNS-One Alicia side at 2:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the HD Spikers square off with Navy in the 5:30 p.m. main feature as Cignal guns to extend its undefeated run since 2019 to 17 games.

NU-Sta. Elena is coming off a straight sets drubbing of young Santa Rosa City squad, 25-16, 25-16, 25-22, last Saturday for a 3-0 win-loss record and a share of the lead with the HD Spikers.

Still, Nationals head coach Dante Alinsurin remains wary of the difficult task ahead against the Griffins, who are raring to get back in the win column after a stinging straight sets defeat at the hands of Cignal last Thursday that snapped their two-game romp.

“We can’t be too complacent. We know that VNS is a talented and very dangerous team,” said Alinsunurin, who also handles the men’s national team.

“This match will be a gauge to where we are right now as a team,” added Alinsunurin, whose squad leads the league in the blocking department with an average of four kill blocks per frame and in service aces with 1.25 winners per set.

Leading the charge for the Nationals are prized setter Joshua Retamar, hitters Nico Almedras, Kennry Malinis, Michaelo Buddin and Michael Fortuna, and 6-foot-6 Congolese middle Obed Mukaba, who norms league-leading 1.42 kill blocks per set.

VNS will pin its hope on Benedict San Andres, Kevin Montemayor and national team setter Ish Polvorosa to keep its semis bid alive.

Cignal coach Dexter Clamor, meanwhile, does not want his wards to commit the same number of miscues they had the last time out when they face the very disciplined Sealions.

“We still have a lot to improve and polish in our game. We need to limit our errors and execute properly,” said Clamor, who rued the HD Spikers’ atrocious 31 errors in their 25-22, 25-20, 26-24, win over VNS.

The Sealions defeated Army, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18, last Thursday for a 2-1 slate.

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