Navy and National U-Sta. Elena set out for a fiery duel today (Tuesday), each looking for a second straight victory and a share of the early lead with idle Cignal and VNS-One Alicia into the second week of the Spikers' Turf elims at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Sealions swept the hard-luck Ateneo-Fudgee Barr side while the Nationals needed an extra set to subdue the Army-Katinko Troopers, both last Thursday, in victories that all the more spiced up the early showdown of two of the fancied teams in the Open Conference.
They tangle at 2:30 p.m. with the winner joining the HD Spikers and the Griffins in the lead in the single round elims among seven teams where every match counts. The top four will advance to the semis.
That also makes the 5:30 p.m. face-off between Ateneo and Sta. Rosa crucial as the Eagles and the young City Lions shoot for the all-important win that would keep them in the hunt for one of the Final Four berths.
The two teams have dropped their first two games in varying fashions with the Eagles yielding a five-set result to the Griffins and a three-set defeat to the Sealions. The City Lions also bowed in three to the powerhouse HD Spikers but nearly shocked the Griffins in a sorry five-set defeat.
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Sta. Rosa actually surprised VNS with its superb all-around game by seizing a 2-1 set lead but cracked under pressure, and yielded too many points off their flawed service game, enabling the Griffins to mount a comeback and escape with a scary win last Saturday.
But the Navy-Sta. Elena duel promises to be a slam-bang of an encounter with the former to lean on Joeven dela Vega, Jao Umandal, Peter Quiel and EJ Casaña and the latter tipped to bank again on Nico Almendras, Kennry Malinis, Michaelo Buddin and Congolese middle hitter/blocker Obed Mukaba.
Matches are aired on One Sports and One Sports+ and the league's official website http://spikersturf.ph/live.