Building from its runners-up finish last year, the UST Tiger Spikers set a lofty objective in Season 86 — setting their sights on the elusive UAAP men’s volleyball crown.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Josh Ybañez propped up their championship hopes, pledging to utilize their reinforced skill sets from the team’s holdovers and new recruits.
“This year, our team is aiming for a higher rank, mag-Finals, and mag-champion this year,” Ybañez said. “For sure, makukuha namin yun kung lahat kami mag-tatrabaho,” he added.
UST was the second seed last year but lost to the unbeaten National University Bulldogs in a Finals sweep, allowing NU to pick up its third straight UAAP men’s volleyball championship.
Despite the loss, which saw the Tiger Spikers win only two sets in a two-game span, team captain Dux Yambao believes UST now has the tools to reach the UAAP’s mountain top.
“Compared sa last year team namin, mas composed kami ngayon,” Yambao told TomasinoWeb. “Tingin ko mas mapapakita namin ngayon yung mas magandang laban…Mapapakita namin sa lahat na kaya na namin makuha yung championship.”
The Tiger Spikers will be carrying over their core from last season, led by Ybañez, setter Yambao, outside hitter Gboy De Vega, middle blocker Rainier Flor, Jay Rack De La Noche, and Emman Dedoroy.
UST also added notable recruits Sherwin Umandal, Trevor Valera, and Nat Prudenciado.
Equipped with talent across all positions, Ybañez reckons that the team is now geared to overcome the long-standing NU hump.
“Naniniwala ako na kaya namin sila,” Ybañez said on the Bulldogs. “Natalo na namin sila sa mga offseason tournaments. I know kaya namin ulit sila talunin.”
The Tiger Spikers stunned the Bulldogs in the PNVF Challenge Cup last November, setting up UST’s victorious five-set shocker against professional team Cignal HD Spikers to rule the tournament.
“I know kaya na namin lahat mag-step up this year. I have so much faith with my teammates this year,” Ybañez added.
Odjie Mamon remains the head tactician for the Tiger Spikers in Season 86,
The UAAP Season 86 volleyball tournaments are set to start on Feb. 17 at the Mall of Asia Arena.