By Akio Mananes

NU Sta. Elena continued their unblemished 2022 Spiker’s Turf Open Conference campaign by making quick work of the young Ateneo-Fudgee Barr squad, 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-19), piercing the blue sail out of semis contention on Saturday.

Photo Courtesy of Tempo

The hot-handed Bulldogs made their defensive presence above the net felt, wreaking havoc on both ends of the floor as they tapped in 13 points off of their denials and 28 markers from Blue Eagles’ errors while pouring in 29 attacks.

The hard-hitting duo of Angelo Almendras and Michaelo Buddin led the Bulldogs' offensive haul as they smashed through Ateneo’s floor spacing with 10 points apiece, enough to switch the Blue Eagles from flight to plight mode. 

The Bulldogs went berserk in the opening salvo as they cruised the first set with a beating, pummeling the Katipunan-based squad after leading as much as 20-9 halfway, 25-14.

Ateneo redeemed themselves in the early minutes of the second frame, snatching the driver’s seat courtesy of their two straight clean deflections, 3-1. 

Captain ball and setter Joshua Retamar, however, orchestrated NU’s offense in full swing to snag the momentum to the top dogs with a 6-0 run at 7-15, and never left their footing on the gas pedal.

Cuffed with a two-set handicap, the Blue Eagles managed to find light as they clung on the Bulldogs’ back to force a deadlock at 13, only to be shrugged off by NU's 12-6 onslaught to end their journey in the tournament.

NU also got ample support from captain ball setter Retamar as he gathered five markers for himself, coming from three attacks and two blocks to solidify their top seed and semis cushion with an immaculate 5-0 slate. 

On the other hand, Jian Matthew Salarzon pumped up the roar for Ateneo with 10 points but fell short as they succumbed to a sweep, leading to their conference elimination with a 1-5 card. 

The Bulldogs will head to a collision course with reigning champions Marck Espejo and the Cignal HD Spikers, eyeing to maintain their taintless record prior to the playoffs in their battle for top seed, September 20 at 5:30PM.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut