THE BIGGER spotlight in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 volleyball tournaments may be on the women’s play but the men’s side — led by champion National University (NU) and the rising University of Santo Tomas (UST) — vow to deliver the same show, if not better, starting this weekend.

Spiking side by side with the women’s teams, the NU Bullpups and the UST Golden Spikers will have no time to heat up when they banner the men’s opener on Sunday in a heavyweight finals rematch. NU is out to extend its dynasty to four consecutive years accompanied by an absurd 34-game winning streak since the 81st season, including the program’s first-ever tournament sweep (16-0) in Season 85 led by team captain and Finals MVP Joshua Retamar. “Its challenge every season defending the crown,” said NU mentor Dante Alinsunurin, who will have his prized setter Retamar for one last hurrah to spearhead their mission.

Well, the Bulldogs indeed have some motivation to fan the fire of their four-peat bid with no less than the Golden Spikers in the way following their tough defeat in the PNVF Challenge Cup late last year that served as their final build-up for the UAAP.  UST, led by UAAP Season 85 Rookie-MVP Josh Ybañez, eliminated NU in the semifinals before slaying pro team Cignal HD in the finals for the PNVF crown.

Mr. Ybañez also captured the MVP award in the PNVF and now sets his sights to just one goal and one team. — John Bryan Ulanday