Kim Fajardo, Cienne Cruz and Cyd Demecillo are usually seen serving, digging and spiking on the volleyball hardcourt with the rest of their teammates under the bright lights of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament. These Lady Spikers give it their all whenever they enter the battle arena and they proudly carry the title of reigning three-peat UAAP champions. But before they go for a fourth straight title, the sand court awaits these three as they suit up in a different setting for the UAAP Season 76 Women’s Beach Volleyball tournament.
Last season, the Lady Spikers clinched a Final 4 spot after finishing with a 6-1 win-loss record, with their only loss in the elminiations coming against the UST Tigresses. However, they floundered to third place at the end of the tournament after they failed to guard a twice-to-beat advantage that they held against the AdU Lady Falcons in the semi-final round. Last year’s duo of Fajardo and Wensh Tiu lost to the tandem of Sheila Pineda and Pau Soriano in three-straight sets, ending the team’s bid for its first championship crown.
With only a few days remaining before the sand wars kick off on August 31, Saturday, at the UE Caloocan sand court, The LaSallian gives you a glimpse of the three ladies who will represent La Salle this season with hopes of finally winning that first championship.
First up is veteran setter Kim Fajardo. For the fourth year AB-SPM major, balancing time between training and studying was not a hindrance. The transition from high school to college was uneasy for her at first though, but she got used to the system as time went by. “Nangangapa pa ako nung una,” Fajardo says, and she added that disciplining themselves when it comes to proper time management is also included in their team training.
Fajardo, who suited up for the Green-and-White in the Beach Volleyball tournament last year, says that her experience in playing beach volleyball will be an advantage for the team. In fact, she already played in the Asian Youth Volleyball tournament in Singapore last July 2009 along with former teammate Wensh Tiu.
What bothers her though is that they have a huge adjustment to be made in their roster. The Lady Spiker says, “Bago partner ko so kailangan ng malaking adjustment.” According to her, what their team needs to do is to just constantly train so that they will gel and have better team chemistry.
Consequently, she assured that all teams are having intense training sessions since all squads want to emerge as champions at the end of the spirited competition. “Ginagawa namin yung part namin para makuha [namin] kung ano ang dapat [namin] makuha. Team La Salle kami na indoor volleyball champions, so nandun din yung pride namin na champion kami sa indoor [volleyball] kaya kailangan naming itaas yung level namin kahit sa beach volleyball,” shares Fajardo.
When asked what adjustments she had to make from playing indoor volleyball to beach volleyball, the Batangas native emphasized that there are a lot of differences between the two sports. Fajardo shared that there are rules in indoor volleyball that cannot be applied in beach volleyball.
Character improvement has been a key and deciding factor throughout her career. Talking about enhancement, the University of Santo Thomas high school alumna adds that, “Mino-motivate ko yung sarili ko na mas gawin ko yung tama. Kailangan laging may ‘mas’. Kailangan mas mataas yung mga ginawa ko kumpara sa last season na ginawa ko.”
The next player on deck is Cienne Cruz. Just like Fajardo, Cruz is also used to splitting her time between reading through her lessons and training for the UAAP. “Di na ako nahihirapan kasi nasanay naman na ako i-balance yung schedule ng training sa class. So basically, naba-balance naman namin yung training time namin sa academics namin,” says the new libero for the Lady Spikers.
Cruz, a third year AB-PSY major, feels grateful and blessed to be a component of the beach volleyball roster since out of all the players in the Lady Spikers’ line-up, she was one of the three individuals chosen to represent La Salle in the forthcoming tournament. She feels that a little pressure comes into play for her though since they have to either maintain or improve their team standing in order to help defend the General Championship that DLSU won last season.
Showcasing her defensive skills within the team is what she believes she can contribute to the squad this season. “Mas feel ko na makakatulong yun para sa tournament at para makapasok sa finals,” shares Cruz.
Cruz anticipated that this season will be a hard-fought battle along with the seven other teams competing since their rivals practically retained their players and had no change in their roster. However, for the Lady Spikers, it will be tougher since they will sport a fresh roster following the departure of Tiu and with only Fajardo remaining. “Pero siguro [ang] malakas na team na makakalaban namin ngayon ay Ateneo and NU since same pa rin sila ng players,” mentions the Obando, Bulacan native.
Moreover, Cruz is facing a big challenge for the upcoming season. Shifting from being a team libero to an all-around volleyball player will be a big test for her. It will truly be difficult for the Hope Christian High School alumna since she will have to learn how to spike, block, set and serve instead of her usual libero chores of digging and receiving the ball.
She also shares that her favorite volleyball player of all time is her sister and former Lady Spiker Charleen Abigail Cruz who is fondly known as “Cha”. She was motivated by her sister, a two-time UAAP Finals MVP, because of how she helps her fellow volleyball players on and off the court. Nevertheless, she is not pressured when fans criticize and expect something from her since they have different capabilities in volleyball since she is a libero and her older sister is a spiker.
Her first name may be literally difficult to pronounce at first glance that led to a three-letter nickname, but definitely, no one can forget the impression made by this talented player suiting up for the Green-and-White. To complete the list of this season’s roster for DLSU’s Women’s Beach Volleyball Team is one of DLSU Lady Spikers’ rising players, third year Cydthealee Demecillo.
Usually called as Cyd, this Lady Spiker proved that she has what it takes to be one of the Lady Spikers’ distinct weapons in the UAAP. She started to make a name in the league as one of the reliable bench players of La Salle in the past season. Many fans further noticed the great talent she possessed during the Game One of the Finals in the Women’s Volleyball Tournament against the ADMU Blue Eagles in the 75th season of the UAAP.
She became one of the key players for La Salle that saved that very important game against the Katipunan-based squad. Way back in that intense game between the two top teams, Demecillo came to the rescue at the third set, combining with Mika Reyes that brought the lead back to La Salle.
This was not enough for Demecillo as she continued to make exceptional plays for her team in the last two sets of the game. Demecillo, along with Reyes, both scored four points each to get the dramatic comeback win. The Cebu stand-out even managed to score a service ace that paved the way for the victory of the Taft-based squad. A lot of people saw the potential in her for making a big difference in the long run of that momentous match against their archrivals. Demecillo showed the kind of game she was expected for such crucial match. Fans agreed that this volleybelle in jersey number 18 was the surprise of the champion team. No wonder that for this season, Demecillo will now be placed as one of the starting six for the Lady Spikers.
With her breakthrough performance from last season, enthusiasts will expect to see more of an improving Demecillo as she hits the sand court for the UAAP Women’s Beach Volleyball Tournament together with teammates Fajardo and Cruz. One of the considered heroes of the team, Demecillo will surely not let her team down and continue to prove that she is a competitive Lady Spiker to reckon with.
It’s all set. Eyes are now focused on the triumvirate of these fierce ladies, Kim Fajardo, Cienne Cruz, and Cyd Demecillo. High expectations and tight pressure seem to be on their shoulders. Coach Ramil de Jesus’ squad will not back down to any confrontations and will definitely spike all the way to the top. It will surely be a thorny competition as they start the tournament clashing with the defending champions and three-peat seeking UST Lady Tigresses on opening day. The race for the Finals may be short for them last season but expect that this will stand as a motivation for them to aim for that championship title.