UAAP: Josh Ybanez, UST regaining winning ways ahead of stepladder semis
MANILA, Philippines—Josh Ybanez made sure to get University of Santo Tomas back on track before the stepladder semifinals as he dropped 26 points to torch University of the Philippines, 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 25-23, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Ybanez ended his first elimination round stint with 21 attacks, three blocks, and two aces and willed his team back from a 16-20 deficit in the fourth set with an equalizing kill.
UP threatened to force a decider as it regained a 22-21 lead but Ybanez tied it again before Charlee Magpayo and GBoy De Vega scored two consecutive blocks for match point, 24-22. Emman Dedoroy’s off-the-block spike ended the two-hour match.
UST snapped a two-game skid before finishing the elimination round with an 11-3 record. The Golden Spikers will wait for the winner of the La Salle-FEU knockout game on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We have to improve because it’s already the semis. We have to practice more and strengthen our attacking and blocking and polish the team’s movement because both FEU and La Salle are strong title contenders,” said UST assistant coach Benjamin Mape, who filled in for head coach Odjie Mamon, in Filipino. Mamon joined the Philippine men’s volleyball team in Cambodia for the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
The league removed the twice-to-beat advantage of the second-seeded team in the stepladder semifinals format, while unbeaten National University is waiting for its opponent in the best-of-three Finals series.
UST also missed Jay Rack de la Noche, who joined Mamon and the national team but De Vega stepped up with 17 points and 21 excellent receptions., while Dedoroy and Rainer Flor chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively, to overcome the team’s 39 errors .
Also-ran UP finished the season with only one win in 14 matches with Louis Gamban leading the way with 16 points and nine digs, while Jaivee Malabanan chipped in 12 points and 19 receptions.
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