University of Santo Tomas has made it to the UAAP men’s volleyball finals for the first time in 11 years following a 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 sweep of Far Eastern University in the Season 85 stepladder on Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“We’re more than happy kasi after  long years nakabalik ng Finals yung UST,” said Golden Spikers’ Gboy De Vega, who unleashed 16 points on 14-of-29 spikes and two service aces while also tallying eight excellent receptions. “Big thank you sa lahat ng alumni kasi isa sila sa naging factor kung bakit kami naging united this game.
“They shared knowledge, yung mga experiences nila before nung nag champion sila dati at isinapuso lang namin yun, naniwala kami sa lahat ng turo nila,” the rookie added.
UST will start its best-of-three finals series against the three-peat seeking National University on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The Bulldogs are undefeated in 14 matches this season.
“Naging advantage sa amin [‘yung long preparation] kasi napag-aralan namin ‘yung positioning nila and at the same time napag-aralan din namin ‘yung weaknesses namin, naging strength namin ‘yun,” said UST assistant coach Benjamin Mape.
Ahead by just two in the third set, 21-19, Gboy de Vega and Rainier Flor collaborated to send the Golden Spikers to match point, 24-20. Mark Calado pulled one back for FEU, but Josh Ybañez completed the sweep on a check ball off a combination play.
The Golden Spikers pulled away from a 17-15 count, with Flor, De Vega, Ybañez, and Dedoroy all chipping in to take the first frame, 25-18.
With the game tied at 22-all, errors doomed the Tamaraws, as Ariel Cacao first committed an overreach violation before Rainier Flor denied Jelord Talisayan for the set point in the second period. Mark Calado’s attempt then went out to give UST the 25-22 tally.
Ybañez backstopped De Vega with 15 points and 13 receptions while Flor and Dedoroy chimed in with 11 points apiece as well.
Calado was the lone Tamaraw in double figures with 12 points, while Jelord Talisayan and Dryx Saavedra managed six and five points, respectively.