UST returns to UAAP men’s volleyball finals, eliminates FEU
MANILA, Philippines — GBoy De Vega and Josh Ybanez joined hands to bring back University of Santo Tomas to the UAAP men’s volleyball for the first time in 11 years after ousting Far Eastern University, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Despite the absence of coach Odjie Mamon and Jay Rack De la Noche, who are in Cambodia for the ongoing Southeast Asian Games, the Golden Spikers came out strong from a one-week break and ended the Tamaraws’ Season 85 campaign in just 73 minutes.
De Vega led the balanced attack of UST with 16 points, hitting 14 of his 29 spike attempts and firing two aces, while MVP frontrunner Ybanez with 15 points, 13 receptions, and three digs.
“Siyempre ang puso ng bawat isa ay masaya kasi yung perseverance and hard work namin nasuklian na nandito kami sa finals,” said De Vega, who also had eight receptions. “Meron kaming chance para makuha namin yung gold kasi magcocompete kami sa finals.”
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UST, which last reached the Finals in Season 74 in 2012, will face unbeaten defending champion National University on Wednesday in Game 1 at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Golden Spikers and ‘three-peat’-seeking Bulldogs will clash in a championship series for the first time in the Final Four era.
Ybanez credited the former UST Spikers, led by JP Torres and Jayson Ramos, who dropped by in their training and watched their knockout stepladder match against FEU.
“We’re happy because we were able to bring back UST to the Finals. Our alumni players helped us and shared about their experiences before, telling the current players how they made it to the finals and became champions,” said Ybanez in Filipino.
Rainer Flor also stepped up for UST with 11 points including three blocks, while Emmanuel Dedoroy also scored 11. Lorence Cruz also stepped up with 11 excellent sets, subbing in for Dux Yambao, who suffered from a minor right ankle sprain midway second set but was able to return to the match.
Mamon and De la Noche will be back on Wednesday in time for the. Finals.
Mark Calado was limited to 12 points as FEU finished with a bronze medal.