MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) stunned powerhouse National University (NU), overcoming a two-set deficit to force a winner-take-all match for the championship in the V-League Men's Collegiate Challenge on Wednesday at the Paco Arena.
The Tiger Spikers hacked out a 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12 in a thrilling five-set encounter in Game 2 of the best-of-3 finals.
Rookies Josh Ybañez and Gboy De Vega played like veterans as they combined to stun the Bulldogs with the former unloading 25 points on top of 19 excellent digs and eight excellent receptions and the latter dropping 24 points along with 15 receptions.
Setter Dux Yambao, another top rookie, also played a crucial role in the win that halted the Bulldogs' win run at eight and foiled their sweep bid. He produced 20 excellent sets on top of eight points built on five attacks, two kill blocks and an ace.
“Take every chance as a learning experience. Matuto kayo, you can identify what is effective and ituloy niyo. Kung ano 'yung pagkukulang niyo, i-improve niyo,” UST head coach Odjie Mamon told his wards after NU took the first two sets.
“'Yun lang, more on learning lang 'yung sinabi ko sa kanila nung down kami. Matuto, matuto, matuto,” he added.
Game 3 is on Friday at the same venue.
The Tiger Spikers led 9-5 in the deciding period, and were still in control, 12-7, off a big kill by Ybañez.
The Bulldogs won the next four rallies to come within one, but De Vega scored from the backrow and Ybañez converted an ace to push UST at match point, 14-11.
Michael Buddin scored off a ball touch to keep the Bulldogs in the hunt but Edlyn Paul Colinares foiled him in NU's ensuing offense to cap the Tiger Spikers' improbable comeback.
Buddin fired 27 points for NU, which also drew 18 points, 21 receptions and six digs from Nico Almendras while Kennry Malinis finished with 11 markers.