UST holds off NU to complete three-peat run

University of Santo Tomas completed its three-peat run after holding off National University with a 28-26, 21-15 win in the UAAP Season 84 men’s beach volleyball Finals Sunday morning at the Sands SM By The Bay in Pasay City.

University of Santo Tomas’ Jaron Requinton (right) prepares to receive the ball as teammate Rancel Varga looks on (UAAP Media Bureau)

The Tiger Spikers, led by two-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist Jaron Requinton and reigning Most Valuable Player Rancel Varga, remained as the kings of the sands and the winningest squad with six titles.

Varga was hailed as the league’s MVP for the second straight season.

“‘Yong MVP bonus po iyon. Our goal talaga is to win the championship. ‘Yong three-peat po,” said Varga, who drew strength from his family and friends from Cebu.

“Sobrang saya kasi nandito ulit ‘yong family ko. Sobrang saya kasi na-witness po nila kung ano ‘yong pinaghirapan namin ng ilang taon.”

Most Valuable Player Rancel Varga (UAAP Media Bureau)

It wasn’t a walk in the park though as UST, who lost to NU in the opener, had to overcome an extended first set.

Varga’s go-ahead kill paved the way for their momentum before Requinton denied Pol Salvador on the net to secure the first frame.

The Tigers used their momentum in the second set as they led by as many as five point early, 7-2, before unleashing a 4-0 run midway through the game to create a 16-9 cushion.

It was all UST from that point on as a Requinton ace capped the last play.

“Sobrang challenging po sa akin kasi sa national team defender ako, so pagpasok ko sa training bubble ng UST, kailangan ko pong mag-adjust kasi ako po ‘yong blocker,” said Requinton.

“One week ako nag-training na puro block, block, block hanggang sa pinasok po ako,” added the national team mainstay, who was listed as the third player and later substituted Efraem Dimaculangan in the elimination round.

Pol Salvador and James Buytrago of NU react after scoring aginst UST (UAAP Media Bureau)

Meanwhile, this was the best finish for the Bulldogs so far since winning the title in Season 80, then led by Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad. NU has four titles in the sands.

The same goes for the De La Salle Green Archers, who settled for bronze after a 21-17, 21-17 win against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.

Noel Kampton won the Rookie of the Year honors after leading De La Salle to its highest achievement yet in the tournament.

Noel Kampton, Rookie of the Year (UAAP Media Bureau)

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