MANILA, Philippines – In a four-set upset, Navy ends Cignal’s three-year, 16-game winning streak on the spikers’ turf, while NU-Sta. Having gotten out to a 4 to 0 start, Elena advances to the 2022 Open Conference semifinals.
On September 13, the 2022 Open Conference doubleheader at Paco Arena was concluded by PGJC-stunning Navy’s four-set victory over defending Spikers’ Turf champion Cignal, 20 – 25, 25 – 19, 25 – 22, 25 – 23.
Jao Umandal scored the most (18 points), and his decisive basket in the fourth set, when the Sealions were down 12 to 20, completed a dramatic 13 to 3 comebacks.
To help the Navy team secure a 3 to 1 victory, EJ Casana notched 18 great sets while three other Navy players reached double-digit scores.
Marck Espejo’s 17-point effort failed to help the HD Spikers advance to the semifinals and ended their 16-game winning streak that had stretched back to the 2019 Reinforced Conference semifinals.
NU-Sta. By sweeping VNS-One Alicia on Tuesday in the first game, 33 to 31, 25 to 17, and 25 to 18, Elena, on the other hand, effortlessly secured its playoff spot.
The Nationals’ fourth straight victory was led by Kennry Malinis, who scored 16 points—all coming off attacks—while Mike Buddin added 15.
Joshua Retamar directed the offensive with 17 strong sets, including a remarkable comeback in the opening set from five points down to win in extra time. Nico Almendras contributed 9 points.
Kim Malabunga scored 11 points for the 2-2 Griffins, while Kevin Montemayor led the team in scoring with 14 points in the defeat.
Against Saturday, September 17, at 2:30 pm, the Navy will take on the struggling VNS team, looking to build on its positive momentum.
The Ateneo-Fudgee Barr Blue Eagles are Cignal’s opponent in a quick turnaround match on Thursday, September 15, at 5:30 p.m., while NU gets the opportunity to play its fellow collegiate team the following day at 5:30 p.m.
EJ Casana demonstrating value for the Navy on the spikers’ turf
After matching its victim at 4 to 1, Navy is one victory away from securing a semifinal spot. Cruzada complimented Casana for their successful start, saying that with Umandal and Greg Dolor waiting in the wings, he has been making the appropriate offensive plays.
The team has benefited greatly from EJ’s contributions. He is making our offensive successful by using his spikers. He must make his spikers function; therefore, he is given the responsibility of driving the team. I have a lot of faith in him.
The Sealions lost their way in the fourth set and fell eight points behind Marck Espejo and the HD Spikers, 12 to 20, after taking a 2 to 1 match lead. But Casana was unyielding and kept fighting, delivering an accurate serve that started a 7 to 0 run and helped him take the lead 23 to 22.
Espejo broke the tie to force a decider, but Ronniel Rosales and Umandal delivered the decisive strikes to deny Cignal a trip to the semifinals.
“Cignal is already gaining distance in the fourth set. After scoring five points, Casana remarked in Filipino, “we told each other during the timeout to take it one point at a time, make a good serve, attempt to block their assaults, and prevent errors. “Beating the reigning champions feels nice. Thoughts of losing the fourth set led us to believe that we had already done so, but I made sure to serve my team well until we prevailed. I have a lot of pride in my teammates.
Cruzada praised Casana’s serving as well as the team’s poise for avoiding a fifth set against the threatening Cignal team.
“The pivotal moment in our comeback was EJ’s serving. The fourth quarter, though, saw the entire team exhibit excellent collaboration by carrying out our plays and making accurate passes. She mentioned that they were very supportive of one another.
To join National University-Sta, Navy will play VNS-One Alicia on Saturday, and the winner will advance to the semifinals (2 to 2). Elena in the Elite Eight. The Sealions coach has stated that Joeven Dela Vega will be out for two weeks as he recovers from the left ankle sprain, he suffered against Army-Katinko last week.
Dela Vega is expected to make a comeback in the semi finals or championship game, so Christian Marcelino, who has played a key role in the last two games, keeps filling in the gaps.
Because Dela Vega’s ankle is still a little sore, we must give him two weeks of recuperation. We can’t make it happen by force. For the time being, he will take it easy and get some rehabilitation so he can compete again later, according to Cruzada.
After shocking a multi-title franchise, Casana has no intention of slowing down because it will just serve as motivation to play even better in their quest to become the first Spikers’ Turf champion in this pandemic period.
“Considering that VNS has lost back-to-back games, we cannot afford to be complacent or let our guard down against them. Following this significant victory, we’ll sustain our performance and practice hard, Casana stated.