Philippine volleyball

Spikers’ Turf champ Cignal hands NU first loss; VNS books last semifinals ticket

JR Isaga
Spikers’ Turf champ Cignal hands NU first loss; VNS books last semifinals ticket

DOMINANCE. Cignal star Marck Espejo celebrates after a point in the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference.

PVL Media Bureau

Defending Spikers' Turf champion Cignal hands NU-Sta. Elena its first 2022 Open Conference loss in a hard-earned sweep, while VNS-One Alicia clinches the fourth and final playoff spot

MANILA, Philippines – Cignal reasserted its dominance in the 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference with a hard-earned statement sweep of erstwhile-undefeated NU-Sta. Elena, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, to end the elimination round at the Paco Arena on Tuesday, September 20.

Marck Espejo led the second-seeded HD Spikers with 17 points, all off attacks, plus 19 excellent receptions, while Owen Suarez tallied 20 excellent sets to help the team mirror the Nationals with identical 5-1 records.

NU dropped to third seed in the loss as Mike Buddin and Nico Almendras led the attack line anew with 14 and 13 points, respectively, while Joshua Retamar again steered the offense well with 18 excellent sets.

Due to the Cignal-NU result, PGJC-Navy rose as the surprise first seed after taking care of business earlier in the day with a quick sweep of Santa Rosa City, 25-12, 25-11, 25-22.

Captain Greg Dolor and the league’s top scorer Jao Umandal led the easy victory with 12 points apiece, while EJ Casana recorded 23 excellent sets in the Sealions’ fifth win in six tries.

Jade Disquitado led all scorers in the sorry loss with 17 points as the young Lions bottomed out with a 1-5 record.

Finally, in the middle game of the rare triple-header, VNS-One Alicia booked the last semifinals spot with a four-set win over the Army, 25-20, 25-16, 26-28, 25-21.

Star Griffins Ben San Andres and Kim Malabunga led the all-important win for a 3-3 record with 19 and 16 points, respectively, while Kevin Montemayor rounded out the team’s top scorers with 15 off 14 attacks.

Madz Gampong, who initially said he was headed home to Tawi-Tawi after the Army’s last game, instead stuck around for the Troopers’ last stand with a team-high 13 points. Rey Taneo added 17 excellent sets as the Army finished with a 1-5 record alongside Santa Rosa City and Ateneo-Fudgee Barr.

The conference now moves on to a round-robin semifinal round, with the Navy and VNS kicking off the hostilities on Saturday, September 24, 2:30 pm. Meanwhile, Cignal and NU will figure in a quick rematch in the 5:30 pm main event.

The top two teams after the semifinals will then advance to the best-of-three finals starting October 1, while the bottom two squads will duke it out in the battle for bronze. –

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