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HD Spikers, Nationals begin Spikers' Turf title clash

Philstar.com
HD Spikers, Nationals begin Spikers' Turf title clash
The HD Spikers blew a two-set lead and bowed to the Nationals at the start of the semis last week but the defending champions worked their way back into finals. contention
Spikers' Turf

Games Thursday

2:30 p.m. – VNS vs Navy (best-of-3 for third)
5:30 p.m. – Cignal vs NU-Sta. Elena (best-of-3 for title)

MANILA, Philippines – Cignal gets the chance for redemption but National University-Sta. Elena is all set to mount the Spikers’ Turf throne as they collide in Game One of the Open Conference finals at the Paco Arena in Manila Thursday.

The HD Spikers blew a two-set lead and bowed to the Nationals at the start of the semis last week but the defending champions worked their way back into finals contention by trouncing the VNS Griffins and the Navy Sealions, forging a high-powered duel with the top collegiate squad, which swept its way to the finals.

Game time is at 5:30 p.m. with the core of the sport’s present crop confident but wary of the future stars in a best-of-three showdown of power, speed and blocking.

Emphasis will also be on reception, floor defense and digging with the HD Spikers to likewise bank on their experience and poise lacking in their last face-off with the Nationals.

“We have to stay focused on Sta. Elena,” said Cignal coach Dexter Clamor after his wards put away the Navy Sealions in three in their knockout duel for the other finals berth last Tuesday.

The proverbial fire of the youth, meanwhile, could work wonders for the Nationals, who are actually using this top-level tournament as part of their buildup for the coming UAAP wars.

“Reaching the finals only showed where we are now,” said Sta. Elena mentor Dante Alinsunurin. “We just proved that the NU program is working, that we can keep up with the club teams.”

"I know the boys can handle the challenge in the finals,” he added.

But the pressure to deliver in a title duel could be far more daunting for the Nationals, who will again pin their hopes on Nico Almendras and Mike Buddin with the likes of Obed Mukaba, Ken Malinis, Jenngerard Diao, Jann Sumagui and playmaker Ave Retamar ready to step up as they always do in their rise to the top.

The HD Spikers, however, are all geared up for a payback with top hitter Marck Espejo confident of drawing another solid support from Ysay Marasigan, Louie Ramirez, Peter Torres, JP Bugaoan, Edmar Bonono, Chumason Njigha, Alfred Valbuena, Manuel Sumangid III and setter Owen Suarez the way they did against the Sealions.

Meanwhile, Navy and VNS-One Alicia likewise open their best-of-three series for third at 2:30 p.m.

Both games are aired on One Sports and One Sports+ and online portals Cignal Play, Gigaplay and SpikersTurf.ph with a delayed telecast on One Sport at 9:30 p.m.

SPIKERS TURF

VOLLEYBALL

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