MANILA, Philippines – St. National University After defeating the defending champions Cignal HD in Game 2 of the Open Conference Finals on Saturday night at the Paco Arena, Elena became the new ruler of the Spikers’ Turf.
In front of a raucous crowd, the Nationals overcame a fourth set deficit to win 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23.
After a close 22-20 deficit, Michaelo Buddin produced the game-winning kill to cap the team’s comeback and put an end to the HD Spikers’ two-conference dominance of the historic men’s volleyball league.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak forced the suspension of the Spikers’ Turf in 2019, Cignal HD had dominated the Reinforced and Open Conferences.
When the league was reinstated, the young NU-Sta. The Elena squad outperformed the seasoned team of Cignal HD in the Finals, demonstrating that they were prepared to compete against club teams. Before sweeping the HD Spikers in two games in the championship series, the Nationals had swept the semifinals.
taking the initiative for NU-Sta. Buddin demonstrated that he is a player to watch in the upcoming UAAP volleyball competition, while Joshua Retamar and Nico Almendras were the league MVP and best setter, respectively, for Elena.
Ysay Marasigan’s hit gave the HD Spikers a 22-20 lead, giving them the appearance that they would force a fifth set. However, Kennry Malinis’ hit cut the lead to one point, and Buddin scored on back-to-back rallies to give NU a 23-22 advantage.
At minute 23, Peter Torres broke the final tie of the game, but the HD Spikers were penalized for a net violation during the subsequent rally to put NU-Sta. Elena is on the line, 24-23. By scoring the game-winning shot, Buddin ensured that the HD Spikers would not mount a comeback.
Almendras contributed 18 points, and Buddin finished with 22 to be named Finals MVP. As NU-Sta, Retamar had 20 outstanding sets. Elena outshone Cignal HD with 52 kills, and the Nationals added 31 free points as a result of HD Spikers blunders.
On the other side, Cignal HD settled for their first silver medal since 2018 thanks to Marasigan’s 17 points, Marck Espejo’s 16, and Louie Ramirez’s 16.
The Spikers’ Turf performance by NU, the defending UAAP men’s volleyball champion, confirms their position as heavy favorites when the competition resumes the following year. Season 84 did not feature any men’s volleyball matches because of pandemic restrictions.
Retamar stated, “Siguro, ‘yung team namin nasa 60% pa. “Marami pa kaming lapses pagdating sa blocking. Sobrang dami pa naming kailangan aralin, lalo na sa serve.”
(Maybe, our team is still at 60%. “We still have a lot of lapses when it comes to blocking. We still have a lot to learn, especially on the serve.)
He continued, “Masasabi ko, ‘yung team namin pagdating ng UAAP, may ilang months pa kami to mag-train para mabuo namin ‘yung 100%.”
(I can say that our team when the UAAP comes, we still have a few months to train so that we can be 100%.)
Nico Almendras won the conference’s award for Most Valuable Player, reiterating his position as NU’s new No. 1 option. In Game 2, the open hitter scored 18 points. But Michaelo Buddin was the Bulldogs’ new star who quickly rose to prominence.
Midway through the conference, Buddin secured a spot in Dante Alinsunurin starting six and never wavered. He scored 22 points, including 20 kills and 14 receptions, in the championship game to earn MVP honors.
By the time the UAAP begins, according to Retamar, Buddin will have improved even more as a player.
The setter said, “Malakas siya at may ilalakas pa siya.” Malayo ang mararating niya. Kahit bata pa siya, ganoon na siya kalakas. Makikita mo na pang-international talaga. Sana lagi naman siyang makinig, and i-open niya ‘yung sarili niya sa mga tinuturo sa kanya.”
(He is strong, and he will get stronger,” the setter said. “I hope he will always listen, and open himself to what is being taught to him. He will go far. Even though he was young, he was already that strong. You can see that it is really international.)