UAAP team preview: DLSU Lady Archers

Womens Basketball

Coming off a heartbreaking season last year, the De La Salle University Lady Archers will look to return on the winning track and bring the championship back to La Salle this coming UAAP Season 78.

UAAP Season 77 in numbers

Following a second place finish in the rankings after the elimination round of UAAP Season 77, the Lady Archers squandered their twice-to-beat advantage against the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in the stepladder semis and finished third overall.

True to form, the DLSU Lady Archers ranked first in the league when it came to defense; allowing their opponents only an average of 50.6 points per game. On the other hand, the Lady Archers offense was ranked third in the league, scoring an average of 57.9 points a game. La Salle was number one in the league in three-point shooting with a whopping 80 triples converted on 26.1% shooting from the field, and also led the league in assists, averaging 16.8 per game.

The three-point shooting prowess of the team and their assist average will likely take a huge hit this coming season as the league’s best shooter, who converted 38 triples last season, Trisha Piatos, and league’s best passer, Miller Ong have used up their playing years.

The real beauty of this particular team, however, is that they have played within a solid system for the past years. Meaning no matter the changes in personnel, they have always found ways to play at a very high level. As proof, for the last six years under the wings of coach Tyrone Bautista, the Lady Archers reached the UAAP Final Four six times, UAAP Finals twice, and won the championship two years ago.

Fresh start

With the Lady Archers losing not just eight players (Miller Ong, Trisha Piatos, Cassandra Santos, Nicky Garcia, Niky Scott, Inna Corcuera, Jonah Melendres, and Martina Lumba) from last year’s UAAP lineup but also their head coach, Tyrone Bautista, this year’s Lady Archers will be parading not just new faces but a new system as well.

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As for former Green Archer and new head coach of the team Cholo Villanueva, taking over a team which lost most of its core players is challenging but at the same time exciting, “it’s like a rebuilding phase for the women’s team. I’m very excited because if you’re going to start something, it’s good to start fresh. Start with a new crop of players so you can instill your philosophies in them unlike when you have old players who already play a certain way. At least when you have new players you can mold them the way you want them to play”.

“I came from the same system as Coach Tyrone; we came from the Pumaren (former head coach of the Green Archers) style of play. It’s all ball pressure so basically it’s defense-oriented”, adds Coach Cholo, “I want to run that kind of system with the Lady Archers but with a tweak of my own identity”.

Even with the team being in a transitioning phase, Coach Cholo still guarantees that the Lady Archers will remain competitive this coming season, “for me transition is a learning process. At the start they need to learn how I work, how my system goes; so there’s a learning curve, but I can assure that we will be competitive this season”.

Next in line

When two of the most heavily used players on the team have used up their playing years, finding replacements would be quite tricky. But for former captain Miller Ong and Trisha Piatos, they share a common sentiment as to who can fill the roles they have left behind: Camille Claro. “Si Claro yung nakikita ko na papalit sa role ko sa team. The way she plays, the way siya nilalaro, feeling ko siya” says Trisha. Miller on the other hand also feels that Claro will replace her as the starting point guard on the team.

claro trisha

Incoming third year player Claro will have her hands full as she will not only be stepping into the shoes left by Miller Ong in the point guard position, but she will also most likely carry some of the scoring and playmaking load of former UAAP Finals MVP, Trisha Piatos.

“Syempre sobrang pressured ako. Nakakagulat na ako pala” says Claro, “pero every game and every training, ibibigay ko lahat para mas lalo kami umangat and maabot yung goal namin”.

As for how her new role in the team has changed her game, Claro feels that it has given her an opportunity to show more of what she can do, “sobrang nag iba yung laro ko. Mas lalo ako nagka-kompyansa. Mas nagagawa ko ngayon yung gusto ko but not individually pero para sa team”.

The comeback

Ara Abaca, the former Rookie of the Year, UAAP Mythical Five member and one of the main guns of the DLSU Lady Archers, will be making a huge comeback this season after missing Season 77 due to ineligibility, “I’m already sure. As in 110% sure ako that I will be playing na this Season” says Abaca. This decision however, was not an easy one for her to make, “aaminin ko nahirapana talaga ako. At one point, I completely stopped training ng about one month, pero ngayon decided na ako. Ito na ‘to. Last na. Ibibigay ko lahat”.

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In Season 76, Abaca averaged a double-double, 13.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. These are averages that catapulted her to be chosen as one of the members of UAAP’s Mythical Five; a feat that she has already won twice. But for this coming Season, Ara is more focused on team success than just her own, “kung ibibigay yung Mythical ulit, plus na lang yun. Para sa akin ang focus ko lang yung championship. Gusto ko hindi lang ako yung may award. Gusto ko buong team ko masaya”.

Expectations and goals

“Compared to last Season, iba naman yung team namin ngayon. We are smaller and hindi kami ganun ka-talented, but we really put our effort in. We have less talent but we make up for it with hard work” says new team captain Alyanna Ong, “everything that we’re doing in the offseason we are doing for our team. We are not preparing specifically for any team because we don’t want our team to adjust to their style of play. We want them to be the ones adjusting to our play”.

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When asked about what her expectations are for this coming season, Alyanna confidently answered with “we are aiming for a championship. Our goal is to win the championship. We are expecting a championship”.

Road to reclaiming glory

The DLSU Lady Archers will begin their UAAP Season 78 campaign against the team they consider as their toughest opponent for this year, the defending champions National University Lady Bulldogs.

RECAP: DLSU athletes at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games

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Various DLSU athletes and coaches from different disciplines represented the Philippines at the recently concluded 2015 Southeast Asian Games. These Lasallians were able to successfully bring home medals and of course, pride for the country.

Table Tennis

Reigning UAAP champion, UAAP MVP, UAAP Athlete of the year and captain of the DLSU Lady Paddlers, Ian Lariba represented the country in Table Tennis. She participated in all three table tennis events: Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Lariba fell short in grabbing a podium finish but she was able to showcase her prowess during the games where she competed in. Lariba gave her opponents a difficult time and she never showed signs of giving up even at times when the score was not in her favor. The Philippines finished 5th in the medal tally for the Table Tennis events.

Taekwondo

Green Jin Raphael Enrico Mella and Lady Jin Rinna Babanto represented the Philippines in the Poomsae events. Enrico Mella, together with Jacob Mella and Rodolfo Reyes Jr. won the gold medal in the Men’s Team Poomsae where they garnered a final score of 7.850, while Rinna Babanto won the Silver Medal in the Women’s Individual Poomsae event after tallying a score of 7.480. Babanto also participated in the Women’s Team Poomsae event where her team finished 3rd overall.

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“In preparation for the SEA Games we trained for five hours straight for conditioning, and Poomsae with checkings” says Rinna “I am so grateful that I was able to contribute a medal for the Philippines. God has given me so much blessings”.

Football

Green Booter Nathan Alquiros was part of the Men’s Football team of the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Philippine men’s football team finished 10th overall after suffering defeats from all the teams that they faced.

Volleyball

Former two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player and former captain of the DLSU Lady Spikers Aby Maraño, was part of the women’s volleyball team which represented the Philippines in the SEA Games. The team only won one game and finished last in the event but showed heart and pushed their opponents to the limit.

For Aby, it was the short preparation time that the team ultimately lacked, “we had a month of preparation and I think that’s why we fell short. We lacked in preparation compared to other countries that train all year round. I think it’s something we need to work on”.

Despite not landing a podium finish, Aby remained optimistic as she learned a lot from her experience in the tournament, “I’ve learned that I am still young to stop learning more about the sport that I love” says Aby “After seeing all the other players from the SEA Games, I told myself that I need to strive more. I want to be like them so I got to be more disciplined and dedicated”.

Overall, Aby cherished every bit of her time at the SEA Games, “the experience was a blast! It is a privilege to represent our country that is why we enjoyed every single day that we are playing for our country”.

Triathlon

Former Trackster and Green Tanker Nikko Huelgas topped the men’s triathlon event. He timed in an impressive 2:04:32, a little over a minute ahead of the second placer from Malaysia. Huelgas grabbed the Sea Games gold after a balanced performance where he was 4th in swimming, 2nd in biking and 1st in running.

FB_IMG_1435294604196Nikko considers his discipline and resilience as the main factors that contributed to his victory, “you have to always think positive and bounce back from your failures as soon as possible and move forward” says Nikko. His 3-month training camp in Portugal, which prepared his body for the race and the help of his teammate Jonard Siam to boost his confidence also contributed to his successful run according to Nikko.

Winning the gold medal was a dream come true for Nikko Huelgas, “It feels amazing and I was fulfilled to be able to achieve my dream that involves not only benefiting myself but the people around me. This is for the Filipino people”.

Fencing

DLSU Green Fencer Gian Rodriguez, former Lady Fencers Gabriella Estimada and Geisha De Leon, and coaches Gian Carlo Nocom and Almario Vizcayno all represented the Philippines in the Fencing events. Gabriella Estimada brought home two medals in separate events, a Silver in Women’s Team Epée and a Bronze in Women’s Team Foil. Gian Rodriguez participated in the Men’s Individual Epée and finished 10th overall. Coach Gian Carlo Nocom finished 6th overall in the Men’s Individual Sabre. In the Women’s Team Sabre, Geisha De Leon and three others finished 5th overall. Coach Almario Vizcayno was part of the Men’s Team Epée that finished 6th overall.

Athletics

Green Trackster Patrick Unso did not fail to bring pride in the Athletics event. He won the Bronze Medal in his specialty and lone event, 110m Hurdles. His run set a personal best and a new Philippine record of 14.12 seconds.

Patrick’s father is a former SEA Games 400m hurdles gold medalist and 110m hurdles silver medalist. “To be honest, there is pressure but it doesn’t come from the fact that my dad was a gold medalist but because I’ve worked so hard just for the opportunity to be able to compete there” says Patrick “with the support of everyone, I believe it’s just right that you pressure yourself to give it your all”.

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Patrick dedicates his win to God and all those who believed in him, “I dedicate this first of all to God, who made this all possible, my parents, my coach, and of course my friends who I know will be there whether I finish first or last”.

Basketball

Former Green Archers Almond Vosotros, Norbert Torres, and Prince Rivero were all part of the Gilas Cadets squad which won the Gold Medal after a convincing win against Indonesia, 72-64, in the championship game. Vosotros, who was a starter for the team, played the role of being the zone breaker for the Philippines. In the semifinal match against Thailand where the Philippines trailed most of the way, it was Almond’s hot shooting from beyond the arc that contributed greatly to the huge comeback that the Gilas Cadets mounted to gain a ticket to the Finals. Norbert Torres and Prince Rivero on the other hand played quality minutes off the bench, getting much needed rebounds for the team. The Philippines continued its reign of being the top dogs in Men’s Basketball in all of Southeast Asia after bagging yet another Gold Medal in this year’s SEA Games.

All the training and hard work have indeed paid off for all these athletes as being chosen to represent one’s country is a feat on its own. Medal or no medal, these Lasallian athletes can hold their heads up high. They made not just the DLSU Community, but the whole Philippines proud of what they have accomplished in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.

This article was written in collaboration with Arnold Cagang.

UAAP Season 77 recap: DLSU Lady Archers

 

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Coming off a sweet championship run in UAAP 76 and their core players still intact, expectations soared high for the De La Salle University Women’s Basketball team for UAAP 77. They however, faced a lot of setbacks during the offseason, which lowered those expectations. Last year’s fairytale ending was followed by one of the most heartbreaking losses this season.

Setbacks

During the offseason, the DLSU Lady Archers suffered two major setbacks. First is the loss of players due to injuries, and second, the loss of consistent Mythical Five member Ara Abaca due to ineligibility.

Head Coach Tyrone Bautista admitted that Abaca’s ineligibility had a bit of an impact at the start but was firm on moving forward and reinventing themselves, “our system was in place. All of us just had to get into it. As much as possible, we don’t try to rely so much on personnel so we could fall back on the system.” says Coach Ty.

First round

With the loss of key player Abaca, the Lady Archers were not favorites for this UAAP season. Some did not even consider them as contenders but the ladies in green and white proved otherwise.

The Lady Archers won their first six games of UAAP 77, beating one team after another in convincing fashion. The team looked sharp in each game during their six-game winning streak, implementing their familiar suffocating full court press, forcing turnovers, and then running and scoring transition baskets on the other end. During tight games during their streak, the Lady Archers always found a way to close it out either by tightening their defense further or hitting clutch baskets in the dying seconds.

They simply looked unstoppable when playing unselfish basketball but the real test came when they faced last year’s runners up, the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs. In last season’s finals, NU had a difficult time breaking DLSU’s press but in their first round meeting for this season, it was as if they mastered the art of breaking that same press. Almost the entire game, the Lady Bulldogs would complete quick passes to break the press in the backcourt then simply score easy layups on the other end. It was a blowout: A 22-point loss for La Salle to end the first round with a 6-1 record.

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Second round

At the start of the second round of eliminations, it was evident that the Lady Archers were still feeling the sting from the blowout loss to the Lady Bulldogs as they dropped their first assignment against an Adamson University team, which they easily beat in the first round. They however, got their groove back as they won their next four games against, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), University of the East (UE), and University of the Philippines (UP) respectively.

With still a few games to be played in the elimination round, DLSU was already assured of a seat in the final four with a twice-to-beat advantage to boot. They started looking like the team that could potentially challenge the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs.

The last two games of the elimination round were against Far Eastern University (FEU) and NU. The game against FEU saw the team trail the whole game. FEU had an eight-point lead in the third quarter and was already starting to pull away, but DLSU’s Trisha Piatos drained three straight shots, two of which were three-pointers to give her team a chance to win in the fourth.

In the dying minutes of the game and with the Morayta-based squad leading by three points, Lady Tamaraw Angel Arellado hit a triple to double FEU’s lead with only 35 seconds to go. Piatos then wasted no time and answered with a triple of her own to make it a one-possession game. La Salle then opted to foul. Jacqueline Tanaman missed both her free throws but DLSU could not secure the defensive rebound which resulted in an easy layup for FEU. The Lady Archers suffered their third defeat of the season, 43-48.

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The much-anticipated rematch between DLSU and NU was one of the most exciting games of UAAP Season 77. NU had not dropped a single game all season long and a win against the Lady Archers will give them an automatic spot in the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage.

The game started with both teams aggressively playing defense and running their offense as if it were already the championships. All the players were playing as hard as they could. The first half ended with DLSU trailing by 10 points, 26-36.

The third quarter was a shootout. The best shooters from both teams came out firing threes and making them. Trisha Piatos made three triples while Jonah Melendres added five points in the quarter to cut NU’s lead to just three points entering the final quarter.

In the dying minutes of the game, DLSU finally got the lead after some free throws from one of the graduating players, Cassandra Santos. NU was quick to recover as they grabbed the lead back on a layup from Gemma Miranda.

Trailing by one point and the shot clock turned off, DLSU committed a turnover that left them no other option but to commit a foul to send NU’s Shelley Gupilan to the line. She split her free throws, but just like what happened during their previous game against FEU, the Lady Archers failed to secure the defensive rebound and had to foul again. The lead after the free throws was up to four and La Salle would fail to score in the next possession. They dropped the game 71-75. Almost.

Stepladder semis

The Lady Archers started strong in Game One of the series. They mounted a huge 15-point lead to open the second half. DLSU looked like they were already running away with the last spot in the Finals but FEU answered with a run that the Lady Archers could not halt.

FEU’s shooters started to heat up from the outside at the closing minutes of the third quarter and the momentum swung to their side and stayed there until the final buzzer.

Lady Tamaraw Jacqueline Tanaman pushed the ball in almost every possession in the fourth quarter. She found open players and even made some low percentage shots. She played the game of her life and almost had a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists to lead her team to a 61-56 victory over the Lady Archers.

Thanks to their twice-to-beat advantage, DLSU still had one more chance to grab a return trip to the Finals. Game Two, however, was just like a replay of what happened in Game One. Once again, the Lady Archers started the game strong and established an 11-point lead at the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter but slowly saw FEU come back and reduce that deficit until they eventually tied the score at the end of regulation. An additional five minutes was needed to settle the score.

The game could not have possibly been any tighter. A do-or-die game, which went into overtime. La Salle drew first blood. They had a four-point lead at the start of the extension but the Lady Tamaraws simply continued what they were doing toward the end of regulation. They gave the ball to April Siat who proved to be the catalyst for FEU. Siat simply bullied her way in the paint and when she got deep enough, Tanaman would pass her the ball and Siat would finish. She was unstoppable.

trisha free throw

With around 30 seconds remaining and the game tied, Coach Ty called his final timeout. The clock started ticking but it looked like the play was going nowhere until last year’s finals MVP, Trisha Piatos drove hard to the basket and drew a foul from her defender. She was the UAAP Season 77’s best three-point shooter and is someone who has always drained clutch baskets for her team. At that point, she once again drained a pressure-packed free throw that gave her team a one-point lead. The ladies in green and white were just one defensive stop away from winning but April Siat calmly banked a shot in the paint to grab the lead for FEU.

One last chance to win. One last possession with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game clock. Piatos, for the last time in her UAAP career brought down the ball for La Salle but was immediately doubled. She passed the ball to Camille Claro in the corner for a triple but it fell way short as the time expired on the defending champions. Season over.

The NU Lady Bulldogs eventually took home the championship after beating the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the Finals.

Thoughts of the coach

For Coach Ty, the reason behind the downfall of the Lady Archers was that they tried to fast track the season. They lost their focus. “I always believe that when you try to shortcut a league, it finds a way to make you pay back for that”. He also feels that somehow he failed to make the necessary adjustments for the team. “With other teams learning how to play the reinvented Lady Archers, I failed to make the necessary adjustments and that’s on me. I’m responsible for that” says coach Ty.

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7.5/10 is how coach Ty rates his team for this season, “The girls exceeded expectations especially with the turn of events that the team encountered. Almost everybody didn’t consider us as one of the contenders. I just told the girls that we will make do with what we have and they responded to the challenge and by believing that we will still be one of the teams to be reckoned with, we did just that. We faltered towards the end but to finish 2nd after eliminations was a testament of the work, effort and dedication that everybody put in.”

“Yes, we were not able to get the result that we wanted but the collective effort of the players to do what’s best for the team is always something to be proud of. There was willingness to share the ball and a desire to make the right plays. There’s very little ego in the way they played and it’s refreshing to watch specially the past three years” he added.

The DLSU Lady Archers has six graduating players in the team: Nicky Garcia, Niky Scott, Inna Corcuera, Cassandra Santos, former rookie of the year and team captain Miller Ong, and one of the deadliest three-point shooters to ever suit up for La Salle, former finals MVP Trisha Piatos. In addition to the graduating players, Head Coach Tyrone Bautista also announced that he won’t be coming back to coach the Lady Archers next season. He will be replaced by former Green Archer Cholo Villanueva.

La Salle’s five most heartbreaking moments of UAAP season 77

 

5. Spoiled 5-peat of the DLSU Lady Woodpushers

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The women’s chess team was on the verge of making a historic 5-peat championship run but was spoiled by an FEU team which was led by their prized MVP, Janelle Frayna. What hurts even more is the fact that they only lost by a single point.

La Salle was also aiming for a potential rare double championship in chess as the Green Woodpushers won the championship in the men’s division. This was also the end of the UAAP career of one of the most celebrated athletes of DLSU, Jan Fronda who has helped bring home four UAAP championships to La Salle.

4. 2-3 loss of the DLSU Green Booters in the championship match against FEU

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After being unbeaten the entire elimination round and barging into the finals via a victory over rival Ateneo in the Semifinal, La Salle was in good shape to take their first championship in UAAP football in a long time.

The Rizal Memorial Stadium was filled with supporters from both squads and the tension throughout the whole game was off the rafters. The Green Booters scored the first goal from a beautiful strike from Captain Gio Diamante off a corner at the 59th minute of the game. FEU patiently waited for the perfect opportunity then at the 71st minute, Giganto scored to tie the game. In the last 10 minutes of the game, Sabin Bustamante gave La Salle the lead back but just a few minutes after, FEU countered with a Jhan Jhan Melliza goal. Extra time. FEU drew first blood with a goal by Paolo Bugas just four minutes into the first half of extra time. DLSU would not have another good shot at goal as FEU applied their delaying tactics to perfection until the final whistle.

It was a great game but one cannot deny that it is still painful to think that at one point, the DLSU Green Booters were just a few minutes away from bringing home another football crown.

3. DLSU Lady Archers’ back-to-back late game collapses against FEU

When a team gains a twice-to-beat advantage entering the UAAP final four, it’s almost automatic that they will make it to the finals. Unfortunately, the Lady Archers lost twice to the Lady Tamaraws in their heated semis series.

During the first game of the Final Four series against FEU, DLSU was in command almost the entire game; it looked as if it will be a runaway for the Lady Archers. They mounted a 15-point lead in the 3rd quarter only to see FEU shoot their way back into the game and eventually take the lead at the last few minutes of the 4th quarter. La Salle lost the game 56-61.

In the do-or-die game, it was basically like watching the replay of what happened in Game One. The Lady Archers once again dominated early and got a big lead in the 3rd quarter but once again saw FEU slowly claw their way back. The game went into overtime. The Taft-based squad had a four-point lead early and it once again seemed that the game was theirs but FEU had other plans. With just around 30 seconds remaining and the game tied, La Salle’s Trisha Piatos got fouled in the act of shooting. She split her crucial free throws. FEU then countered with an under goal stab from April Siat to give them a one-point lead. Just a few ticks left on the game clock, Piatos, for the last time brought down the ball for the Lady Archers, passed it to Camille Claro for an open corner three but she missed. DLSU succumbed to FEU thrice in four games.

What hurts even more is that the Lady Archers were the defending champions and they did not even get a chance to play in the finals. It was also a painful way to exit for the graduating players of the Lady Archers led by former Finals MVP Trisha Piatos, Captain Miller Ong, Cassandra Santos, Niky Scott, Inna Corcuera and Nicky Garcia.

2. That Mac Belo triple

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Who could forget it? Who? That corner three point shot which shattered the hearts of many Lasallians. The triple that no one will ever forget.

Another do-or-die game. Another one against FEU. With the game tied and the shot clock turned off, FEU’s Mike Tolomia drove hard to basket and kicked out to an open Mac Belo for a corner three. BANG. The ball barely hit the rim. It was a shot that went in smoothly right at the buzzer. One half of the arena rejoiced while the other half fell silent. It was as if the world stopped for a bit. Just like that the Green Archers were dethroned.

Losing in that manner was extremely painful. No one ever wants to lose that way. To add to that, it was the final game of one of the best three point shooters to ever play for La Salle, Almond Vosotros and two formidable bigmen in Norbert Torres and Yutien Andrada.

1. Ara Galang and Camille Cruz’s season-ending injuries

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More than all the painful losses, the missed opportunities, the wasted chances, nothing hurts more than losing players to season-ending injuries.

When Ara Galang fell down at the latter stages of the 4th set of their game, it was like a nightmare. Everyone said his or her prayers while waiting for the medical bulletin and when it came out, it was every supporter’s biggest fear. A left knee injury far worse than one could imagine. An anterior cruciate ligament tear, a medial collateral ligament tear, bone bruises, and a meniscus tear. Out for the season.

Losing Ara Galang was painful enough but it did not stop there. In their next match, also at the latter stages of the set, Camille Cruz went down hard on her right knee. Once again everyone hoped for the best but when the medical bulletin came out, it was almost identical to what Ara suffered. The only difference is that instead of an ACL tear Camille suffered an LCL (lateral collateral ligament) tear. It was Camille’s third major knee injury in the last four years.

Nothing is more painful than seeing such dedicated players be sidelined due to injuries, which are beyond anyone’s control. Truly heartbreaking.

This UAAP season has been very tough for La Salle, but the best part about suffering so much heartbreak is that it only makes one stronger. As the saying goes, the most painful setbacks precede the most wonderful triumphs.

Lady Spikers display the perfect effort but still not enough to dethrone the Lady Eagles

FINALS

The Lady Spikers gave it their all but fell short once again against their rivals, the Ateneo Lady Eagles as they lost in straight sets, 22-25, 15-25, 23-25.

Perfect effort. This is something that every coach, spectator, or fan would want from his or her team and the Lady Spikers showed just that the entire game. With only 12 players remaining on their roster due to the two season-ending injuries that both top-scorer Ara Galang and Camille Cruz suffered, many would think that the finals would be a walk in the park for Ateneo, but that was not the case.

Game two started with a kind of tension that can only be drawn from a matchup against two rivals. It was neck and neck almost the entire first set with Ateneo only winning it by three points. The second set however, was not as close as DLSU committed a lot of unforced errors especially on their reception. La Salle also mistimed some of their attacks, which gave Ateneo easy points.

The third set of the game was as close as it can get. La Salle started the set very strong. They even mounted a five-point lead at one point but Ateneo slowly recovered and eventually took the lead. At the 22-20 mark of the game with Ateneo having the lead, Desiree Cheng committed a crucial service error, which gave Ateneo a 3-point cushion. La Salle quickly scored two points of their own before Ateneo setter Jia Morado scored with a drop ball to give Ateneo two match points. La Salle was able to save one match point but Jia Morado ended the game with a strong tip just right behind DLSU’s blockers to give Ateneo a second straight championship.

DLSU’s scoring was well balanced again with no player scoring more than 10 points. The tandem of Mika Reyes and Majoy Baron combined for eight offensive blocks while Kim Fajardo had 25 excellent sets for DLSU. Ateneo was led by season MVP Alyssa Valdez with 20 points and finals MVP Amy Ahomiro who scored 10 points.

From the first point of the first set until the very last point of the final set, the Lady Spikers fought their hearts out. Exemplifying the heart of true champions. They may not have won the crown this season but they sure made everyone proud by showing that they are not just a team, but a family that would do everything for each other and that is something worth celebrating.

Lady Spikers show resilience but fall short against Ateneo

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The DLSU Lady Spikers dropped game one of their finals series against the ADMU Lady Eagles in straight sets, 18-25, 19-25, 19-25.

The DLSU Lady Spikers came out of the dugout wearing their identical Ara Galang shirts as a tribute to their captain who suffered a season-ending injury in their previous game. Ara Galang, despite her injury, still wore her jersey and stayed in the bench with her team. She was also seen talking to her squad during timeouts and intervals.

Just like how they promised, the Lady Spikers fought their hearts out the entire game. It was quite evident that they missed Ara Galang’s presence inside the court but it was equally evident that each player tried to step up in their captain’s absence.

First year player Eli Soyud was given the task to fill the gap that Ara Galang left on the starting lineup while Desiree Cheng got the starting nod at the utility position. The first set started really close with both teams exchanging strong spikes and neither team getting enough momentum to mount a big lead but in the latter stages of the set, La Salle lacked the consistency to sustain their hot start.

The following sets went the same way with DLSU keeping it close early but losing focus and composure down the stretch. The third set was slightly tighter than the first two, with the Lady Spikers throwing successful combinations and trick plays but Ateneo was still able to pull away late in the set. They simply did not have an answer for Alyssa Valdez who scored a game-high 25 points. On the bright side, DLSU’s scoring was well balanced in this game with the top scorer, Cyd Demecillo getting 10 points, Eli Soyud getting 8 and Majoy Baron getting 7 points.

After a suffering a hard blow from Ara Galang’s injury, the DLSU Lady Spikers were unfortunately faced with another nightmare in the last few moments of the game. Camille Cruz, who was being subbed in and out the entire game for defensive purposes was given an opportunity to attack for the first time late in the third set but landed awkwardly on her right knee. It was like déjà vu as Camille fell at the exact same spot as Ara did just the game before. As of writing it is still not known what the extent of her injury is. One could only hope that is it not another ACL tear as Camille had previously torn her ACL twice.

The Lady Spikers will have another shot to stop the streaking Ateneo Lady Eagles from capturing the championship as they face each other once again on Saturday, 3:30pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Bittersweet victory: Lady Spikers advance to the finals but loses Ara Galang to injury

ara

The DLSU Lady Spikers came out strong and overpowered the NU Lady Bulldogs in their do-or-die match as they claimed the final ticket to the championships via a four-set victory, 26-24, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21. This win however, was not easy to enjoy as team captain Ara Galang suffered a season-ending injury during the latter stages of the 4th set.

The Lady Spikers started the game with the kind of eagerness and confidence that everyone was looking for all season long. They played their kind of volleyball. Celebrated each point with huge smiles on their faces. But just as when it seemed like the Lady Spikers were already cruising to their 6th straight finals appearance, the most unfortunate thing has happened. Ara Galang, the team’s leader and number one scorer, landed awkwardly on her left knee and fell to the floor after giving her team their 23rd point of the 4th set.

The whole arena fell silent as Ara clutched her left knee while grimacing in pain. As much as it was difficult for the players to see their captain go down, they still had a game to finish. Justine Tiu entered the game for Ara Galang while Desiree Cheng replaced Majoy Baron for serving duties. Cheng kept her composure and nailed an ace, which gave La Salle their match point. A few plays after that, Justine Tiu went for the kill and gave the Lady Spikers their ticket to the finals.

True to form, Ara Galang showcased her scoring prowess in this game as she top scored once again for DLSU with 25 big points, four of which came from solid offensive blocks while Cyd Demecillo, who also suffered an injury (ankle sprain) during the game, scored 15 points.

There was little celebration after the win however, as everyone’s mind was on Ara Galang. Just a few hours after the game, it was confirmed that Ara suffered an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, MCL (medial collateral ligament) tear, medial meniscus tear and big bone bruise on her left knee. She was ruled out for the remainder of the season. It was every supporter’s worst nightmare turned into reality.

DLSU Lady Spikers drop a tough one against the NU Lady Bulldogs

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Coming off a two-week break from playing in the UAAP, the DLSU Lady Spikers started slow and never got their groove the entire game as they lost to the NU Lady Bulldogs in straight sets, 20-25, 20-25, 19-25.

The Lady Spikers once again had a different starting lineup for the game as coach Ramil opted to start with Kim Dy and Carol Cerveza while keeping Majoy Baron and Desiree Cheng on the bench. It didn’t take very long however, for coach Ramil to make his first substitution by replacing Dy with Baron. The substitution worked for a while as Baron was getting some touches but it wasn’t enough to propel the Lady Spikers in the first set.

In the second set, coach Ramil shuffled his players again with first year player Eli Soyud coming in for Carol Cerveza but just like in the first set, the substitution, which was working wonders for DLSU in their previous games, didn’t work this time.

The Lady Spikers still started slow in the third set. They were lacking in energy but coach Ramil still tried to pull one more bunny from his hat as he subbed in Aduke Ogunsanya for Majoy Baron. Aduke helped La Salle get some points through her solid blocking but also committed some errors. Desiree Cheng was also eventually inserted in the game, she showed flashes of brilliance with her attacks and quick thinking but it wasn’t enough to get over the offensive slump of the starters.

Ace setter Kim Fajardo, wasn’t connecting perfectly with her attackers throughout the game with Ara Galang being the long bright spot for the Lady Spikers. Ara galang scored a game-high 14 points while Cyd Demecillo added 10 points. Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo scored 13 points each for the NU Lady Bulldogs while their rookie Jorelle Singh added 11 points.

DLSU is the number one blocking and serving team in the league but for this game, NU scored two more block points and one more service ace than the Lady Spikers. DLSU also had 19 unforced errors as compared to NU’s 14.

It is a relief however, that despite the tough loss against NU, the Lady Spikers entered their stepladder series with a twice-to-beat advantage and will therefore have one more shot to oust the Lady Bulldogs and secure a finals berth on Saturday, 4pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Lady batters super rookie: Jamica Arribas

Softball has been one of those sports where DLSU has not won any UAAP championship yet. In the past seasons, the DLSU Lady Batters have always found themselves at the bottom half of the standings, but for UAAP season 77, super rookie Jamica Arribas is giving the La Salle faithful something to cheer about.

How it all started

Jamica started playing softball when she was in grade four and played it competitively just a year after. She doesn’t know why exactly she chose softball but what she did know is that she wanted to pick up a sport and luckily, she excelled in the first sport she tried.

With more than 20 championships under her belt, Jamica was highly recruited by a lot of schools, but for her, picking where to play for college was not a hard decision to make, “dream school ko yung La Salle,” says Jamica “maganda kasi yung education dito at priority ko kasi yung studies ko”.

For Jamica, La Salle’s previous UAAP records were not a factor with her decision making, “Adamson kasi since elementary nirerecruit ako, pero kahit malakas yung team ng Adamson, pinanindigan ko talaga na sa La Salle ako kasi kahit matalo sa Adamson ok lang naman sakin yun kasi sa La Salle ko talaga gusto mag aral”.

Preparations

Compared to her thrice-a-day training in Bacolod, the Lady Batters only train twice a week but Jamica does extra work to prepare for her games. She also feels that her training schedule in La Salle is just right because she gets to prioritize her studies, “tama lang. Sobrang saya ko kasi priority namin yung studies ko” says Jamica “sa first two terms ko sa DLSU, dean’s lister ako kaya masaya talaga ako”.

Her team also did a lot of work during the offseason as they faced a lot of teams in tune up games and for Jamica, this helped them a lot because they gained a lot of game experience which will be a big factor in the UAAP.

Goals

Before the start of the UAAP season, Jamica has set goals for herself and for her team, “madami akong goals kasi alam ko naman na madami silang expectations sa akin” says Jamica “as a team, goal namin is umabot ng final four. One game at a time tapos sana umabot ng finals”.

“Gusto ko din makakuha sana ng individual award” Jamica admitted “yung rookie of the year sana kasi nung high school ako wala akong individual award kaya ngayong college gusto ko makakuha”.

UAAP season 77

The DLSU Lady Batters currently have a 4-1 record in the ongoing UAAP season 77 softball tournament and Jamica’s incredible pitching is one of the biggest reasons for her team’s early success.

Jamica has limited the teams they have already faced to just a few runs and when asked about her good showing, Jamica simply gave all the credit to her teammates, “every pitch ko nag pray talaga ako tapos yung teammates ko kasi alam ko na lagi silang ready kaya pitch lang ako ng pitch kasi alam ko naman na kahit hit yun, nandun yung teammates ko para makuha yung ball”.

The DLSU Lady Batters will be facing the unbeaten Adamson squad on Saturday, and Jamica is looking forward to facing her former mentor, “yung pitcher kasi ng Adamson ngayon siya yung nagturo sakin mag pitch” says the Bacolod native “kaya excited din ako makalaban sila kasi malakas yun and kaliwete din”.

As for her team’s chances against Adamson, Jamica says that her team is capable of beating Adamson, “kaya naman. Advantage namin is yung pag naglaro kami galing talaga sa puso”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Spiker on the rise: Eli Soyud

Eli SoyudThe De La Salle University women’s volleyball team has always been known for setting high standards in the UAAP and this can be attributed to the great program and recruitment which continuously produce great volleyball players again and again. Christine Joy Soyud, or Eli Soyud to many, is a testament to that stellar program.

Big jump

Eli started playing volleyball when she was already a first year high school student. Just three years after she picked up the sport, she was spotted by one of coach Ramil De Jesus’ friends.

“Nung fourth year ako nakita ako nung friend ni coach Ramil tapos kami ni coach nagkita lang kami nung brother Ceci cup. Tapos nung nakita niya ko maglaro tinanong niya ako kung gusto ko mag La Salle, tapos kinuha niya number ko tapos yun na. Nag contact siya,” she shared.

Other universities also tried to recruit Eli but she eventually chose her dream school La Salle, “NU and FEU din lumapit sila to recruit pero kasi bago pa sila dumating nakakuha na ko ng exam sa DLSU. Hinihinatay nalang yung result. Kahit bago pa nag recruit si coach Ramil, sa La Salle ko talaga sana gusto mapunta pero para lang kasi sakin ang labo kasi ang layo ko. Hindi ko inexpect talaga na mapupunta ako sa La Salle”.

Road to the UAAP

During her first year as a DLSU Lady Spiker, Eli did not make it to the final line up of DLSU for the UAAP

“Expected ko naman yun kasi marami pa yung seniors. Kumpleto pa talaga yung line up ni coach kaya reserve muna ako. Okay lang naman sakin kasi marami pa naman talagang kulang sakin. Sabi nga ni coach hindi pa talaga hinog para isalang sa UAAP,” added the Lady Spiker rookie.

In the UAAP season 76 campaign of the Lady Spikers, Eli admitted that it was hard to watch from the sidelines especially when she watched her team lose their UAAP crown, “nung finals, yun yung time na sobrang naiinis ka na sa sarili mo kasi wala ka magawa. Nasa labas ka lang at nagcheecheer”.

Her experience from the sidelines motivated her to work hard to make it to the lineup “after ko mapanood matalo yung team sinabi ko talaga sa sarili ko na talagang kailangan next year makapaglaro na ko para makatulong ako sa team”.

Eli’s hard work indeed paid off as she was chosen by coach Ramil De Jesus to be part of DLSU’s lineup for UAAP season 77, “Hindi ko inexpect kasi madami kami. Parang may healthy competition din kasi kami sa team kung sino kukunin ni coach kaya iwas expectation din ako kasi mahirap din mag expect. Pero nung nakita ko na nasa lineup ako syempre na excite ako. Sobrang masaya kasi finally makakalaro na ko sa UAAP”.

First UAAP experience

In her first UAAP game donning the green and white, Eli got the shock of her life when the barker said her name during the announcement of the starting lineups “may sakit kasi si ate Cyd (Demecillo) nun pero nung time na biglang tinawag yung pangalan ko nagulat talaga ako. Hindi ko inexpect. As in nag lag ako kasi hindi ako makapaniwala. Syempre may kaba na halong natutuwa. Halo halo na naramdaman ko nun”.

“Kaya talagang ako pakundisyon lang lagi kasi hindi mo naman alam kung kalian ka tatawagin para maglaro. Mahirap din kasi yung tipong wala ka sa kundisyon tapos ipapasok ka bigla. Nandun lagi yung kaba na baka mas worse pa yung magawa mo dun sa pinalitan mo,” quipped Soyud.

Memorable game

The first meeting of rivals La Salle and Ateneo in UAAP season 77 volleyball was exciting as it reached five sets but what made it memorable for a lot of volleyball fans is the emphatic block that Eli Soyud had against the reigning UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez, “that time kasi di ba sobrang haba nung rally, grabe na yung intensity sa loob ng court tapos na block ko siya. Syempre masaya sa feeling kasi score namin tapos crucial pa” says Eli “para sakin na rookie palang tapos ma block si valdez malaking bagay na yun kasi valdez yun e”.

That particular block garnered a lot of talk in social media as Eli showed a lot of emotion after she successfully blocked Valdez but according to Eli, she did not even realize that she reacted that way because of the long rally and the intensity inside the court.

Gaining bashers was inevitable but Eli handles her haters by doing what she does best, she simply blocks them, “yung mga nagsasabi nun hindi nila masyadong alam about volleyball. Minsan kasi yung iba nakikisali lang. Yung ganun naman kasi part lang ng game e. Pag may pages na malayo na yung sinasabi binoblock ko lang sila lahat”.

In that same game, Eli also experienced her first loss in the UAAP, “syempre masakit para samin yun kasi same team yung nakatalo, pero yung mindset naman namin after nun is dapat bumawi kami”.

Breakout performance

In DLSU’s 2nd round meeting against the UP Lady Maroons Eli Soyud had a terrific performance, which resulted in her scoring a career-high 16 points. What is more impressive is that she got those points while playing a different position.

Eli only practiced as an open spiker for two days that’s why when coach Ramil decided to field her in as an outside hitter, she really had to make big adjustments.

After her impressive outing against UP she got praises from her coach but is still uncertain whether she will be converted to an open spiker or not, “hindi ko sure if gagawin na akong open. Sa ngayon training ako for both positions. Okay lang naman sakin kahit anong position basta wag lang libero”.

Looking ahead

Now that the UAAP season 77 volleyball tournament is already half way done, people have already seen which teams could compete for the crown. For Eli, despite their first round loss to Ateneo, she still thinks that they would be able to get that championship, “ngayon sa second round kailangan na namin ma sweep kasi mahirap na if hindi. Pero kahit ano mangyari kakayanin namin kasi yung goal namin is maibilik yung crown talaga”.

As for individual awards, Eli has only one thing to say, “kahit sakanila na lahat ng individual awards basta sa amin yung championship”.