DLSUs Lady Spikers are losing four key players to graduation but those staying behind realize the tougher challenge ahead is retaining the UAAP crown and theyre not resting on their laurels. It was a hard climb back to the throne but coach Ramil de Jesussquad never wavered in posting an overall record of 16-1 last season. La Salles only setback was a four-setter to UST in the second round and in the best-of-three finals, the Lady Spikers swept the National U Lady Bulldogs. However, the sweep was far from smooth as La Salle came back from 0-1 and 1-2 set deficits in both matches before clinching.

De Jesusreappearance after sitting out the first round due to health reasons wasnt only inspiring but also motivating. His assistant Noel Orcullo held the reins in the early going and both brought the Lady Spikers home. It was La Salles 12th womens volleyball title, all with De Jesus at the helm, but first since the 2017-18 season. The Lady Spikers came close to bagging the crown last year but fell to NU in two straight contests in the finals without taking a single set.

Feel na feelyung hard work at gusto namin makabawi, maipakita eagerness para manalo,” said skipper and UAAPs best setter Mars Alba. “Sobrang overwhelming ang feeling.” Alba, Jolina de la Cruz, Ina Hatulan and Matet Espinas wont be back next campaign but Rookie of the Year/MVP Angel Canino has four more playing years left and middle blockers Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma three so the future appears secure. Aside from Canino, other rookies this season were Amie Provido, Lyka de Leon and Shevana Laput. Returning is Leila Cruz whos recovering from an ACL injury.

De la Cruz said when a player is injured, the challenge is to fill in and make the adjustment. “Mahirap ang matagal mag-practice as a team tapos may mawawala sa injury,” she said. “Paano pupunan? Credit kina Shevana and Jyne (Soreno) for stepping up at parang wala nangyari. Babawi next season si Leila pati si Sheena (Toring) ng NU.” Sharma said winning her first title in the UAAP was surreal. “Last season, no pressure and I gave myself grace but this season, I had to perform, show up and fulfill my role,” she said. “Its fulfilling to achieve with hard work. My dad (Carlo) is my biggest supporter and inspiration. He reminds me to stay focused, huwag sayangin ang opportunity in front of me. Thats why I work hard to set goals and make my parents proud.”

Canino said other teams will surely work to get stronger next season so its a new challenge for the Lady Spikers. Facing off against NUs Bella Belen is a big deal for Canino and while theyre friends off the court, theyre on opposite sides, describing their rivalry aspampagana.” Gagate said even as La Salle lost only to UST this season, NU is a lot tougher. “Mahirap talunin ang NU kung lahat sila activated at sa UST, kung mapigil ang kanilang No. 1 player Eya (Laure), kayang pigilin ang UST,” she noted. De la Cruz said its heartening that as she graduates from La Salle, shes able to leave a championship legacy behind.

2023-05-25T17:41:12Z dg43tfdfdgfd