MANILA, Philippines, September 23 ------ Spikers’ Turf title contender NU-Sta. Elena rallied from two sets down to stun the defending champion Cignal, 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10, at the start of the 2022 Open Conference semifinals at the Paco Arena on Thursday, September 22.
Nico Almendras spearheaded the Nationals’ huge comeback with a 30-point explosion off 26 points and 4 blocks, while Mike Buddin backstopped the herculean effort with 23 points and 16 excellent receptions. Star setter Joshua Retamar tallied 22 excellent sets and 4 points as NU drew first blood in the round-robin semis.
Marck Espejo paced the HD Spikers’ heartbreaking collapse with 22 points and 20 excellent receptions while Louie Ramirez and Ysay Marasigan scored 18 and 13, respectively.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the double-header, the streaking PGJC-Navy downed the VNS-One Alicia Griffins with a hard-earned sweep, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22. Sealions captain Greg Dolor led the surprise top seed with 20 points in just three frames, while EJ Casaña set up the offense brilliantly with 23 excellent sets. No VNS player scored in double figures as Kevin Montemayor led the way with 9 points. Ben San Andres and Uriel Mendoza each scored 8 as veteran setter Ish Polvorosa recorded 14 excellent sets.
NU and the Navy are set for a must-see match on Saturday, September 24, 2:30 pm, while Cignal aims to avoid the brink of elimination against VNS that same day at 5:30 pm.