UAAP: Green Spikers lose steam in UAAP return, fall to Growling Tigers

Since the premature ending of their UAAP Season 82, the DLSU Green Spikers had a rough start as they made their highly-anticipated return in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Volleyball Tournament, falling to the UST Growling Tigers in four sets, 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 19-25, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, earlier today, February 26. 

In the losing effort, John Ronquillo led the scoring for the Green and White with 18 points, which was followed by Noel Kampton, who tallied 11 points. Menard Guerrero, who was in charge of the defense of his team, contributed 18 excellent digs. 

Josh Ybañez led the Growling Tigers to victory as he posted double digits with 24 points and 10 excellent receptions. This momentum was matched by Gboy De Vega and Jay De la Noche who scored 19 and 15 points, respectively—efforts supported by Dux Yambao, who contributed 17 excellent sets. 

Heated chase

Both teams entered the first set of the game with vigor, showing grit until the end. The match opened in a close 5-all scoreline before Growling Tiger De Vega pulled back-to-back service aces to create a lead for his side, 8-5. Ybañez carried UST heavily to keep the lead in their favor and break down Taft’s walls, 11-8. Green Spiker Ronquillo contributed an off-the-block attack, followed by a staredown, to inch closer to an equalizer, 14-13. 

Despite keeping the opening set close, the Green Spikers were only able to tie the ball game through another off-the-block hit by Ronquillo, 20-all. The España-based team then sealed the set by shutting down a Kampton attack, 25-22.

Coming in clutch 

DLSU opened up the second set with several successful blocks that allowed them to contain UST’s spikes and gain an early advantage, 4-0. However, UST’s De la Noche answered back and found a donut hole in the Green and White’s defense to bring the score to 7-2. This attempt at a run was shut down by La Salle’s Vince Maglinao, who blocked an attack from the Growling Tigers and brought his team to the first technical timeout of the second set, 8-3.

The Green Spikers faltered in their defense as the España-based tandem of De la Noche and Ybañez scored crucial points that cut the lead down to one, 10-9. In an attempt to cushion his side’s lead, Kampton converted a crosscourt hit, 13-9. This was followed by an explosive attack from Ronquillo that brought his team to the second technical timeout of the set with a three-point advantage, 16-13. 

Fresh from the break, a triple block from the Green and White denied Ybañez’s attempt to close the gap at 20-16. But De Vega broke through the Taft-based blockers to tie the game at 21-all. Unable to contain UST’s attacks, DLSU faltered in their reception as they trailed, 21-23. Ronquillo took matters into his own hands and tied the game at 23-all. A crucial attack error from UST closed the second set in favor of the Green and White, 25-23. 

Keeping the upper hand

Fully aware of the Green Spiker’s offensive abilities, the men from España held the lead for the majority of the third set. 

La Salle’s Nath Del Pilar kicked off the set by breaking down UST’s double block and countering with his own defensive moves, 3-1. Team captain Maglinao also showed his flare on the court with a through-the-block attack and a catching the back end line, 6-4.

The Growling Tigers tied the game at 13-all with a Rainier Flor block on Bill Anima. A De Vega service ace sealed the attempt as they stole the lead from the green shirts, 14-13. Unbothered by the lead of the Tigers, Ronquillo dropped a back row bomb and a smart drop to keep a close distance,18-17. 

Nearing the end of the set with just a one-point advantage, 24-22, UST’s Ybañez directed an emphatic spike to the opposing court. In an anti-climatic finish to the third set, Ronquillo fought back with a hit that sailed out of bounds and gave the Growling Tigers a point, 25-22.

Losing steam

Attempting to shift the game’s momentum back to their side in the final set, the Taft-based team slacked on defense as UST’s Yambao built an early lead for his team, 3-1. After a crucial attack error from Kampton, DLSU Green Spikers Head Coach Arnold Lanlog called a timeout to regroup his team. Their strong presence coming out of the break was able to rattle UST’s momentum as they committed a reception error, 10-7. Ronquillo’s cannonball into the defense of the Growling Tigers was able to cut the lead down to three, 11-8. In response, Ybañez and De Vega were able to convert back-to-back points for the España based squad as they brought their team to the second technical timeout with a comfortable six-point lead, 16-10. 

The Green Spikers still struggled in their reception as they could not contain UST’s dominance in the court. This allowed De la Noche to score back-to-back service aces which rattled DLSU’s attempt to close the gap, 23-16. Growling Tiger John Dedoroy’s explosive attack brought his team to match point 24-18. A final hit by Flor, who broke through the blockers of the Green and White, sealed their fate at 25-19. 

The Scores:

DLSU – Ronquillo 18, Kampton 11, Maglinao 6, Anima 5,  Del Pilar 5, De Jesus 4, Serrano 3

UST – Ybañez 24, De Vega 19, De la Noche 15, Flor 7, Magpayo 6, Yambao 4, Dedoroy 1

Set Scores: 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 19-25

Luis Agus

By Luis Agus

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

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