THE UST Tiger Spikers settled for a runner-up finish in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball championship after losing to the undefeated NU Bulldogs, 20-25, 21-25, 20-25, on Sunday, May 14, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Josh Ybañez, the season’s rookie of the year and most valuable player (MVP), pitched 13 points while Rey Miguel de Vega contributed 10 points.
NU’s swift sets led by team captain Joshua Retamar, who posted 17 excellent sets, were too much for UST.
The Tiger Spikers’ impressive floor defense was not enough to stop the Bulldogs’ aggressive offense led by Michaelo Buddin, who converted 20 points on 18 attacks out of 44 as a team.
Desire the defeat, UST men’s volleyball head coach Odjie Mamon sees a brighter future ahead for the team.
“We already overachieved when we reached the finals. I promised the university that we will be in the final four coming from fifth [place] before the pandemic,” Mamon said during a post-game press conference.
While Mamon believed that the team had the capability to win the championship crown, he reminded his team to manage their expectations.
Ybañez said he felt proud of his awards but he would have been “happier” if his team bagged the crown.
“It’s just a bonus if there are ever individual awards. But this is what the Lord gave us, so we should accept it and be thankful for it,” the rookie MVP said.
It was the Tiger Spikers’ first finals appearance in 11 years.
UST athletes recognized
Three UST volleyball players were also awarded during the UAAP Season 85 volleyball tournament awarding ceremony.
Ybañez was named the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable player, after dominating the league with 96 statistical points (SP), making him 22.86 points higher than Michaelo Buddin from National University who garnered 73.14 SP.
Ybanez’ explosive attacks helped the Golden Spikers reach their first championship appearance in 11 years after sweeping the FEU Tamaraws in their step ladder matchup.
“I’m happy, but I’ll probably be happier if we won the championship,” Ybañez said in the post-game press conference after losing to the NU Bulldogs in three sets.
Aside from Ybanez, Tiger Spiker Jay Rack deal Noche was also recognized for being UAAP’s best opposite spiker, ranking third in service and 15th in attacking. Dela Noche earned 177 ranking points (RP).
Golden Tigresses’ Bernadette “Detdet” Pepito received her first best libero award after accumulating 212 RP, which is 15 points ahead of Ateneo’s Roma Mae Doromal with 197 RP.
The UST ace defender was no stranger to the award, as she was a 5-time winner during her time in the girl’s division.
“Nothing, this is just a bonus since we’re after the podium finish or championship. It’s just a bonus since we’re really after the podium finish or championship,” Pepito told The Flame.
Pepito was a big part of UST’s campaign in the tournament as her quick reflexes saved numerous points for the Golden Tigresses, as they finished the season with a 14-10 record. F – Andrei Duran and Aris Galang