MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas roared back from a 0-2 set deficit and lived to fight another day after stunning National University, 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12, in the title round of the V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge at Paco Arena.
Rookies Josh Ybañez and Gboy De Vega played like veterans as they combined for 59 points to spearhead UST’s comeback Ybañez unloaded 25 points on top of 19 excellent digs and eight excellent receptions while De Vega dropped 24 points with 15 receptions.
Dux Yambao, another top rookie, also played a crucial role that halted the Bulldogs’ winning run at eight and foiled their sweep bid. Yambao produced 20 excellent sets on top of eight points built on five attacks, two kill blocks, and an ace.
“Take every chance as a learning experience. Learn by yourselves, you can identify what is effective and keep on doing it. Determine your shortcomings and improve them,” UST head coach Odjie Mamon said, sharing what he told his wards after NU zoomed to a 2-0 set lead.
“I told them to focus on learning when we were down,” he added.
The Tiger Spikers and the Bulldogs dispute the crown on Friday. NU took the first game in straight sets, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19, last Sunday.
After UST bounced back with back-to-back set wins of their own, the Tiger Spikers kept the momentum of that big surge and led, 9-5, in the decider then padded it to 12-7 on an Ybañez’s kill.
The Bulldogs answered back with a four-point binge to threaten within one but De Vega scored from the back row and Ybañez converted an ace to push UST at match point.
Michael Buddin scored off a ball touch to keep the Bulldogs in the hunt but Edlyn Paul Colinares foiled him in NU’s ensuing offense to cap the Tiger Spikers’ improbable comeback against a squad that toppled the seasoned teams in the recent Spikers’ Turf.