What was expected to be a tight battle between two powerhouse teams turned into a one-sided affair as defending champion Cignal bullied its way to a 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, win over National University-Sta. Elena Tuesday in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The HD Spikers banked in the troika of Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan and Louie Ramirez to play the spoilers’ role in the Nationals’ attempt to complete an elimination round sweep.
Cignal closed the elims with a 5-1 win-loss record tied with its victim and PGJC-Navy, which occupied the no. 1 seed in the round-robin semifinals starting Saturday. The HD Spikers took the second seed while the NU-Sta. Elena landed at no. 3.
Espejo was in the zone in spiking with all of his 17 points coming off attacks. The sweet-hitting veteran was also active on floor defense as he contributed 19 excellent receptions and five digs for the HD Spikers, who will once again meet NU-Sta. Elena in the Final Four.
The Sealions, on the other hand, will face VNS One-Alicia in the other semis pairing.
Cignal coach Dexter Clamor lauded the performance of his wards in the one-hour, 33-minute encounter.
“We prepared really well against Sta. Elena. Everyone delivered and performed well,” the mentor said.
Marasigan had 12 points, Ramirez chipped in with 10 while setter Owen Suarez tallied 20 excellent sets that helped the HD Spikers translate into 47 attack points.
The Nationals had a sloppy outing, giving away 22 points off errors.
Michaelo Buddin led NU-Sta. Elena with 14 points while Nico Almendras and Kennry Malinis finished with 13 and 10 markers, respectively.
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