Nationals aim to stay perfect

NU-Sta. Elena wants to preserve its four-game run in the Spikers Turf Open Conference. | Photograph COURTESY OF SPIKERS’ TURF

Games today:
(Paco Arena)
2:30 p.m. — VNS vs PGJC-Navy
5:30 p.m. — Ateneo vs NU-Sta. Elena

Semifinals-bound National University-Sta. Elena stakes its unblemished record when it faces desperate Ateneo-Fudgee Barr in the Spikers Turf Open Conference today at the Paco Arena in Manila.

The Nationals carry a perfect 4-0 win-loss record and are joined by idle Cignal and PGJC-Navy in the Final Four of this men’s volleyball tournament.

NU-Sta. Elena youngster Michaelo Buddin is looking forward to the 5:30 p.m. match between their University Athletic Association of the Philippines archrivals.

“I’m excited to go out there and compete particularly in this match because we all know the hype of the UAAP rivalry between NU and Ateneo. I won’t let our supporters down,” vowed the NU-Nazareth School product Buddin, who has been showing huge contributions for the Nationals.

Buddin, who is averaging 10.1 points per game, dropped a personal-best 15 points in NU-Sta. Elena’s 33-31, 25-17, 25-18, victory over the VNS One-Alicia Griffins.

The Blue Eagles, on the other hand, are on the brink of elimination with a 1-4 slate tied with Santa Rosa City and Army.

Ateneo is coming off a 14-25, 23-25, 22-25, beating at the hands of Cignal last Thursday. Another loss or a win by the Griffins will give the Blue Eagles the boot.

Although the Nationals hold an advantage in height and firepower, head coach Dante Alinsunurin is not taking the Blue Eagles lightly.

“For sure it will be a tough match for us. We just have to stay consistently aggressive regardless of whom we face,” said Alinsunurin, who will also bank on rookie 6-foort-6 Congolese middle Obed Mukaba, Kennry Malinis, Nico Almendras and national team setter Joshua Retamar.

“We just need to stick with our system.”

Meanwhile, VNS will try to arrest a two-game slide and secure the last semifinal seat against PGJC-Navy at 2:30 p.m.

After a hot two-game start, the Griffins dropped two straight matches.

Seasoned playmaker Ish Polvorosa will need to squeeze more numbers from scorers Kevin Montemayor, Kim Malabunga and Benedict San Andres for VNS to complete the semis cast and avoid falling into a dangerous playoff for the last semis seat.

It, however, won’t be an easy task.

The Sealions are still high from their huge 20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23, upset win over Cignal last Tuesday.

Navy, which holds a 3-1 card, boasts of a deep arsenal led by league-leading scorer Jau Umandal, Christian Marcelino, Peter Quiel and Greg Dolor.

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