The UST Golden Spikers failed to solve the NU Bulldogs puzzle in Game 1, suffering a 25-17, 26-24, 25-19 loss against the defending champions in their best-of-three UAAP Season 86 men’s volleyball finals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, May 11.

UST suffered its first loss against the Bulldogs this season, having swept them in the elimination round. The Golden Spikers now have their backs against the wall as NU only needs one more win to defend its championship.

“We are back on the drawing board, akala ko noong second set, makaka-recover kami,” UST head coach Odjie Mamon postgame. “Unfortunately, ‘yong errors ‘yong pinakamarami noong sa second set.”

“I will challenge the players to wake up and magkaroon sila ng sense of urgency,” he added.

With the opening salvo tied at 12-all, NU’s Leo Aringo scored through UST’s block to ignite a 13-5 run capped by a Nico Almendras down-the-line kill to give NU the first set, 25-17.

Errors hounded the Golden Spikers in the close second set. NU reached match point, 24-22, but back-to-back off-the-block kills by Josh Ybañez forced a 24-all tie in the second frame.

Unfortunately for UST, Michaelo Buddin scored a through-the-block kill, and Ybañez hit the antenna to give NU a 2-0 lead.

With NU up by three in the third set, Buddin converted an off-the-block kill to ignite a 12-6 run and give NU the Game 1 victory, 25-19.

Ybañez paced the Golden Spikers with 11 points, while Popoy Colinares and Sherwin Umandal contributed nine points apiece.

Buddin and Almendras led the Bulldogs with 16 points each, while Leo Aringo was not far off with 15 points.

The UST Golden Spikers will look to bounce back in Game 2 at the MOA Arena on Wednesday, May 15, at 2 p.m.