Rob Andrew Dongiapon
Finals, at last.
Snapping an 11-year finals drought, the UST Tiger Spikers trounced the FEU Tamaraws in straight sets, 25–18, 25–22, 25–21, to claim the remaining finals ticket in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, Sunday afternoon.
The win propelled the Tiger Spikers to their first finals since Season 74 in 2012, and set up a title clash against the unbeaten NU Bulldogs.
Gboy De Vega led the way with 16 points, while Josh Ybanez added 15 markers — including the game-winning kill that triggered a frenzied celebration among the UST faithfuls.
Meanwhile, Rainier Flor and Emman Dedoroy also chipped in 11 each as the Tiger Spikers sustained their feisty play from start to finish, despite missing the services of head coach Odjie Mamon, and Jay Rack Dela Noche due to national team commitments.
UST also heaved a sigh of relief late in the third set after Dux Yambao checked in, following an injury scare on his ankle off a set play in the second set, missing out on almost half of game time.
Despite those drawbacks, the Tiger Spikers never stepped out of the gas, warding off FEU’s sudden runs before overwhelming the latter with their attacks.
UST had 20 more attacks than FEU, unleashing 49 on 103 total attempts. The Tiger Spikers, however, coughed up 26 errors yet again with nine more than the Tamaraws.
The third set proved to be FEU’s best display, but Ybanez’s late heroics allowed UST to step on another gear and ice the finals seat.
The best–of-three finals duel between UST and the NU Bulldogs will be on Wednesday, May 10, at the Mall of Asia Arena.