by SHAYNE LEE MACARAEG
THE UST Golden Spikers roared their way to a finals berth after packing up the FEU Tamaraws in three sets in their stepladder do-or-die matchup, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament.
“We’re more than happy because after  long years, UST has returned to the Finals,” said Golden Spikers’ Gboy De Vega who was named Best Player of the Game after leading UST with 16 points on 14 attacks and a couple of aces.
This will be UST’s first championship appearance since Season 74 back in 2012, where the Tiger Spikers lost to the FEU Tamaraws, 2-0.
Elimination was imminent for the Tamaraws as the Golden Spikers built a four-point cushion after a block from Rainier Flor for match point, 24-20.
FEU’s leading scorer Mark Calado heaved one last attack for their season before UST’s sensational rookie Josh Ybañez responded with a kill to finish them off, 25-21, at the Araneta Coliseum, on Sunday.
On the verge of getting swept down two sets, FEU managed to control the pace halfway through the deciding set, making UST play catch-up as Calado converted a kill, 14-15.
However, Ybañez sparked a three-point run that put the Golden Spikers back in charge of the game, 17-15, as they never looked back again.
De Vega did not do it alone for UST, as he had a lot of help from Ybañez who scored 15 points on 14 attacks, along with Flor and Emman Dedoroy who had 11 markers apiece.
Meanwhile, Calado was the only one in double digits for FEU, scoring 12 points on 11 attacks.
UST was without head coach Odjie Mamon, and opposite hitter Jay Rack dela Noche, as they are representing the country as part of the men’s volleyball team in Cambodia for the Southeast Asian Games.
“We knew that we could do it, they’re beatable,” Ybañez said as the Golden Spikers are set to face the unbeaten NU Bulldogs on May 10 for game one of a best-of-three series, at the Mall of Asia arena. F