UST Golden Spikers reach finals at the expense of top-seed FEU Tamaraws

The UST Golden Spikers beats the top-seeded FEU Tamaraws at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, May 8. Photo by Jianzen Deananeas/ THE FLAME

THE FOURTH-ranked UST Golden Spikers booked their second consecutive finals appearance after beating the top-seed FEU Tamaraws in four sets, 25-18, 21-25, 26-24, 26-24, in the UAAP Season 86 men’s volleyball semifinals on Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The opening set was a tight battle between the two teams, but a late surge fueled by Rookie-MVP Josh Ybañez’s attack ignited UST’s offense.

A block from opposite spiker Sherwin Umandal and middle blocker Rainier Flor sealed the set for the Golden Spikers, 25-18.

FEU responded fiercely in the second set, taking an early 5-1 lead. However, the game was halted shortly due to FEU’s rotational fault and de Vega’s “fake serve,” resulting in a red card for de Vega and a yellow card for Tamaraws head coach Edd Orcullo.

The duo of Ybañez and Umandal spearheaded UST’s comeback, but Zhydrx Saavedra and Jayjay Javelona’s efforts secured the set for the Tamaraws, 25-21.

The third set became a De Vega show, as the open hitter exploded after a tight 15-all score, repeatedly finding holes in FEU’s blocks. He capped off his dominant performance with two crucial points to secure the set, 26-24.

The Golden Spikers carried their aggressive momentum into the fourth set. UST captain-setter Dux Yambao and middle blocker Poy Colinares swiftly erased FEU’s early lead, 2-2.

But De Vega was not done yet, as he delivered a decisive cross-court attack that sealed the set and brought UST to the finals, 26-24.

“We never had a doubt. Even during the start of UAAP when we were losing, we never doubted that we’ll make it to the finals,” De Vega told The Flame.

“We just set a mindset that when we are closer to the goal, then we will be encountering more challenges.”

Four Golden Spikers scored double digits during the do-or-die game. Ybañez led the charge for UST with 19 points, while de Vega, Umandal and Colinares chipped in 18, 16, and 12 points, respectively.

Saavedra led the Tamaraws with 20 markers. Javelona tallied 16 points, while Andrei Delicana had 12.

The finals rematch between the UST Golden Spikers and defending champions NU Bulldogs will start on Saturday, May 11. F

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