Published on February 5th, 2017 | by Karl Niccolo Dela Cruz0
UAAP Season 79 Team Preview: Lady Spikers
The last UAAP Season marked an historical era for De La Salle University in volleyball as the Lady Spikers have finally reclaimed the throne for the Green and White’s ninth championship. Names such as Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Cyd Demecillo have permanently etched their marks on the face of Philippine collegiate volleyball as they led the Taft-based squad with a win of epic proportions to cap off their UAAP careers.
Coming in to Season 79, a mix of veterans and fresh faces form a new breed of Lady Spikers to try and defend the women’s volleyball crown for a 10th championship for La Salle. As all teams are gunning out to get the best of the Lady Spikers, the team is building up a major foundation banked on skill, experience and a goal to get another crown for the Green and White.
It has been a habit for the La Salle management to release the entire lineup of the Lady Spikers until a few weeks or even days before the start of the tournament. A lot of fans have been speculating who would form the holes left by the former La Salle bigshots and who would make up the starting lineup of DLSU. As the wait is over, La Salle is locked and loaded to finally enter the taraflex once again with an explosive roster.
Veterans Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili and most especially, team captain Kim Fajardo will serve as the pillars of the Lady Spikers this season. They are to be assisted by Tin Tiamzon and returning volleybelles Desiree Cheng and Aduke Ogunsanya to complete the starters for DLSU. With Fajardo being the sole graduating player, Fajardo can only give her utmost trust to her co-veterans who are to help the team maintain the crown. “Simula na rin ‘to para matutunan nilang dalhin yung team sa susunod pang taon,” said the national team setter.
One thing that La Salle has been consistent of is getting to parade a deep bench every season. May Luna, Carmel Saga and Julia Ipac who gained quality minutes in the last season are all back to help with defending the crown. Justine Tiu is primed for another comeback this year after missing the team last season. Coming off the training pool are setter Michelle Cobb and hitters Gyra Barroga and Arianne Layug.
Although the Lady Spikers are in an unfamiliar territory with their lineup, the odds could still be in La Salle’s favor as the first and second stringers have been working hard for the competition. “I think that since half of the first six last season are gone we train double the effort. We worked most especially in building back the connection of the team,” expressed Dy.
Pressure may haunt the Lady Spikers this season but the veterans are trying to shrug it off and convert it to wonders for their games. “Ayoko isipin siya as pressure though at first yun talaga maiisip mo. Ako kasi sobra laki ng tiwala ko sa team ko and hindi naman nila ako hinahayaan na porket ako yung pinaka-senior, ako lang dapat magtrabaho. Hindi. Tulong tulong kami,” shared the veteran setter.
Currently, the team is working on a lot of adjustments for the Lady Spikers feat to another championship title. Team chemistry, in-court attitude and mindset are just a few of the things La Salle is polishing as they enter the new season.
“Siguro naging kalaban namin last year is yung sarili namin, yung kumpyansa sa sarili, minsan nawawala. Ngyon tina-try naming makuha yung confidence ng bawat isa and as a team,” said the reigning Best Digger and Receiver Macandili. In the past La Salle has been a victim of late-game meltdowns which have haunted them in a few games in the last season. However, the Lady Spikers have been working double the effort to solve this problem and get their grip inside the court. Veterans such as Baron are also looking to get rid of La Salle’s nerves in the taraflex by serving as role models for the younger spikers, “since isa na ako sa seniors dapat makita ng mga kasama ko na kaya nila akong sandalan kapag dumating na yung crucial times.”
La Salle has been known for harnessing swagger when playing in the court. From Michelle Gumabao to Aby Maraño and Mika Reyes, the Lady Spikers would not be complete without the killer-instinct attitude bannering the colors of Green and White. This year, Dy and Baron are expected to fill in the positions of “swag queens,” to help boost the morale of the team. “Well I think swag gives us confidence. When you see your teammates play like that, nahahawa ka eh,” shared the UAAP 78 Finals MVP.
The Lady Spikers are also working on the team mindset to help gauge them in the games. To start strong and finish stronger would be their primary motivation for this season as they try battling it out for another championship. In addition, the veterans’ legacies are at stake as they try to make up for their last few years in volleyball. “Kahit anong pagod mo, hindi mo yun dapat ipakita sa mga kasama mo lalo na sa kalaban. Hindi [kami] dapat makitaan ng kahinaan sa kahit anong aspect,” expressed the graduating team captain.
With their quest for a 10th championship at bay, the Lady Spikers are locked and loaded to make big waves in the UAAP volleyball scene again. With all other teams out to gun the Taft-based squad down, La Salle is more than ready to maintain their winning legacy and go all out this season. “Basta lalaban kami at ilalabas naming ang lahat ng pinaghirapan naming buong taon,” Fajardo ended.