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Faster, fiercer Ybañez looms

JOSH Ybañez vows to lead University of Santo Tomas to the title in Season 86 of the UAAP men’s volleyball tournament. | Photograph COURTESY OF UAAP

A faster and fiercer reigning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Josh Ybañez will be at the forefront of University of Santo Tomas’ mission of completing an unfinished business in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s volleyball tournament.

“Our coaches expect a quicker Josh, a fiercer Josh and of course, a Josh who will give his full trust to his teammates,” Ybañez said.

The high-leaping Ybañez had an explosive introduction in the collegiate scene last season when he led the Golden Spikers to a return stint to the finals in 12 years.

Although UST fell prey to the unbeaten National University in a championship series sweep, the 21-year-old General Santos City native cemented his name as the Golden Spikers’ go-to guy.

Now, the second player to be named RoY-MVP after former Ateneo de Manila University legend Marck Espejo in 2014, is back to lead the España-based squad’s charge for the elusive crown.

“I had a great start last year so I think I have to carry that momentum this year. I’ll just do my best, all out performance all the time, all out performance every game so that I can have bigger contributions to the team,” he said.

Still, Ybañez doesn’t want UST to be a one-man show this season.

The Golden Spikers of head coach Odjie Mamon have a formidable arsenal with returning national team member Gboy De Vega, setter Dux Yambao and Rainier Flor.

“We’re ready, the team is ready. If ever I struggle in my game, they have my back. I have trust in my teammates and I know they can step up when needed,” Ybañez said.

“I know they are ready to step on the plate.”

UST gets an early chance of a payback against no less than the four-peat-seeking Bulldogs.

The rematch of last year’s championship showdown is set Sunday at 12 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

A fitting test for the hungry Golden Spikers.

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