Published on February 2nd, 2018 | by Genrev Josiah Villamin0
UAAP Season 80 Team Preview: DLSU Lady Spikers
Season 79: Champions
Holdovers: MaJoy Baron, Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili, Desiree Cheng, Tin Tiamzon, May Luna, Aduke Ogunsanya, Michelle Cobb, Gyra Barroga, Arianne Layug, Justine Tiu, CJ Saga, Norielle Ipac
Additions: Roven Andrea Instrella
Losses: Kim Fajardo
After bringing the crown back to Taft in Season 78 and successfully defending it in Season 79, the De La Salle University Lady Spikers are not yet done. Heading into Season 80, they are after their third consecutive championship in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
La Salle will continue to banner a squad composed of mostly veterans with plenty of UAAP experience including the last two titles. Reigning Most Valuable Player Majoy Baron, Best Receiver Dawn Macandili, and La Salle’s top scorer, Kianna Dy, will look to anchor the Lady Spikers as they savor their last playing year with the team.
“I came in to La Salle na I just looked up to my seniors nung pumasok ako sa first six. Nung nandun sila, sila yung naglilead. Ngayon, time na namin na maglead. Kapag nasa loob, kailangan lagi kaming matapang, last na magi-gigive up,” Dy describes how she can lead the team as a senior.
Dy racked up 159 points built on 121 spikes, 21 blocks, and 17 serves to lead La Salle in scoring in Season 79.
Baron shared that they can anchor the team by guiding them with their skills, just like how the former Lady Spikers guided them when they were in their first playing years. “Ginaguide namin sila (lower batch players) sa mga skills. Shineshare ko yung mga natututunan ko kasi from the past players ni Coach (Ramil de Jesus). Ganun din sila sa amin. Parang culture lang na pagpasa ng knowledge.”
Baron edged out NU’s Jaja Santiago after leading La Salle in spikes and blocks. She is the first Lasallian to bag the plum since Ara Galang and Aby Marano shared it in Season 75.
The ladies, however, are aware that this season will not be a walk in the park, just like last season, let alone without the loaded services of Kim Fajardo. Their former team captain and setter has already maxed out her playing years in the UAAP.
Baron admitted adjusting to playing without Fajardo will be crucial for the team.
“Yung setter namin kailangang magdouble-time since important yung role ng setter. Siya yung playmaker and sa kanya dadaan yung bola most of the time.”
Nonetheless, she expressed, “Hindi na namin hinahanap kung ano yung mga nawala like kung ano yung kayang gawin ni Ate Kim. Si Coach na ang bahala. Siya na ang magdedesign ng play para sa amin.”
Replacing her in the position is incoming sophomore Michelle Cobb.
“Kailangan naming mag-adjust sa bago naming setter,” Dy said of their new setter. “Iba kasi yung style ng play ni Ate Kim and Michelle Cobb. I think Michelle dibs the ball faster, so adjust yung spikers. Meet kami halfway.”
Macandili, who led La Salle in digs and receives, specified the adjustments they have been doing. “Si Ate Kim kasi medyo matangkad na setter. So may block, may defense siya pag frontline siya. Si Cobb, mas maliit so nag-focus kami sa floor defense since mas mataas yung chance na hindi maka-block si Cobb.”
While Cobb is younger and has less experience in the court, her seniors know what she can do on the floor. Moreover, they vowed to help her get the confidence she needs.
“Buong tiwala naman kami sa kanya na magagawa niya yung role niya inside the court,” Macandili marveled. “Kailangan lang din namin siyang tulungan para magampanan niya and makuha yung confidence.”
The trio are confident that La Salle will perform well and reach heights this season. However, they are quick to bare that they have yet to be at their peak.
“So far hindi pa kami ganun kabuo. Hindi pa nagje-jell yung team,” Baron describes the progress of their training a few days before the games begin. However, she was quick to reassure that it is normal and it has been the same scenario under Coach Ramil. “Sabi nga ni Coach, ever since naman, yung La Salle hindi talaga ganun ka-solid sa start pero eventually nagpi-peak. Three months naman yung UAAP so hindi kami nagmamadali.”
Dy added that they will progress more once the tournament starts. “Hindi pa kami satisfied, pero throughout the season, makikita namin yung mga mali namin and from there, doon kami mag-aadjust.”
Macandili, though, made it a point that La Salle is still a cohesive unit based on the lineup. She added that it is just the chemistry on the court that is their challenge this season.
A back-to-back-to-back championship is a rare feat done in the UAAP since the Final Four era or since 1994. Only FEU (Seasons 63, 64, 65) and La Salle (Seasons 66, 67, 68 and Seasons 73, 74, 75) have done it. Ateneo could have completed it (Seasons 76, 77, 78), but La Salle crashed and stole Season 78.
The championship is the primary target of the Lady Spikers in Season 80. And along with it is the rare three-peat. Despite a difficult feat to achieve, Baron and Macandili shared that the key to success is their experience.
As per Baron, “Yung experience sa laro. Yun talaga yung way para maging solid kami. Every game kasi may natututunan kami and doon kami nag-a-add up ng mga skills. Yung mga weaknesses namin doon lumalabas, and doon kami nakakapag-adjust.”
On the other hand, as a graduating player, Macandili said it’s all or nothing. “Since last playing year ko na, sobrang taas ng motivation and passion. Talagang gusto na naming ibuhos lahat ng kaya namin para makuha yung championship. It’s all or nothing. Hindi na namin mababalikan ito next season.”
“Lagi namang lumalaban yung Lady Spikers. Yun yung trademark ng Lasallian athlete,” the Best Libero continued.
Macandili, then, addressed the DLSU Community and the Lady Spikers’ fans, “Lalaban with all our hearts, the will to win is always there. And we will play as a champion.”
The De La Salle Lady Spikers will open their title-defense bid on February 3, 4PM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena against the UST Golden Tigresses.