UAAP: Rising rookie Josh Ybañez leading the way for surging UST

UST’s Josh Ybanez. UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Josh Ybañez has been one of the biggest revelations in UAAP Season 85, as the rookie led the University of Santo Tomas Golden Spikers to their best first round finish in 12 years.

The 19-year-old under-the-radar recruit, continued to show maturity beyond years for a UST side that has won four straight and six of its first seven games.

As he continues to make waves in the league, Ybañez became the first-ever men’s volleyball player to be voted as the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week for the period March 15 to 19.

Despite being tagged as a super rookie, the General Santos City native makes sure to always keep his feet on the ground as he remains eager to be better for his team.

“I’m not thinking of that because I’m still open to learning more from my coaches. I still have a lot to learn,” said Ybañez, emerging as the league’s second leading scorer with a total of 147 points, best server with 0.54 aces per set, and third best spiker with 43.07% attack rate after the first round.

The 5-foot-7 spiker poured in a season-high 31 points to torch Ateneo, 21-25, 28-26, 25-21, 25-21, on Wednesday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre. Ybañez uncorked 26 attacks, three blocks with 14 excellent receptions and eight digs.

Three days later, Ybañez was at it again, firing a game-high six service aces to finish with 18 points in their 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 win over University of the East on Saturday.

UST coach Mamon believes that the best is yet to come for Ybañez, who has also been stellar on the defensive end. He is currently the No. 2 Best Receiver in the league with 55.97% efficiency, No. 9 in digs with 1.68 digs per set, and 10th-best blocker with 0.50 blocks per set.

“I’m still grooming and nurturing him,” said Mamon. “Even if you let him, he will keep on scoring but it will be better if he will continue to play under the system and stay in sync with his teammates. They will grow together.”

Ybañez beat other candidates from UST in Regina Jurado and Eya Laure, National University star Bella Belen, and La Salle’s Angel Canino and Fifi Sharma for the weekly citation.

After an impressive first round, Ybañez expects to have a big target on his back in the second round.

Ybañez, however, is hardly concerned knowing his teammates are capable of rising to the occasion.

“Honestly, I have nothing to worry about because all of the players from our team can contribute,” said Ybañez. “I may have led the team in the first round but for sure my teammates will step in the second round. I have nothing to be afraid of.”


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