Golden Spikers stumble in Round 2 opener against Blue Eagles

Photo by Franz Martin Dizon/THE FLAME

THE UST Golden Spikers’ winning streak came to a halt after bowing to the Ateneo Blue Eagles in a five-set encounter, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 28-26, 15-9, in the Round 2 opener of the UAAP Season 86 men’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday, March 20.

Despite a valiant effort from reigning MVP Josh Ybañez, who notched 33 points, UST committed  30 costly errors that ultimately proved their undoing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Golden Spikers started strong, surging to an early 18-12 lead in the first set. However, a series of unforced errors allowed the Blue Eagles to claw back. 

Ybañez stepped up with a crucial drop ball to secure the set, 25-22.

The second set was a see-saw battle, with Ateneo’s offense led by Jian Salarzon and Kennedy Batas countered by UST’s solid blocking and Ybañez’s strategic plays. 

The score was tied at 24-all before Blue Eagles Amil Pacinio’s off-the-block hit gave Ateneo a narrow 26-24 win.

Salarzon continued his dominance in the third set, powering Ateneo to a 25-23 victory despite Ybañez and open hitter Gboy de Vega’s efforts.

The fourth set was a tight contest, with Ybañez and Salarzon trading blows. UST managed to force a decider with a 28-26 win. 

Salarzon and Batas combined for nine points in the fifth set to secure a convincing 15-9 win for the Blue Eagles. 

De Vega was UST’s second-leading scorer with 18 points, followed by middle blocker Paul Colinares with 10. Salarzon finished with a game-high 32 points, while Batas chipped in with 25. 

Both teams now hold a 4-4 win-loss record. 

The Golden Spikers will try to regain their winning form against defending champion NU Bulldogs on Sunday, March 24, at the same venue. F – Mc Neil Zhy Serrano

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