The DLSU Lady Spikers is perhaps the most successful collegiate volleyball program in the country to date. With the team being a perennial favorite not just in the UAAP, but in almost every other league they join, the team, the players, and the coaching staff have earned the respect of the local athletic community.
But on top of all the glory, what is next for the Lady Spikers? In a sport steadily gaining eminence in the local sports scene and now sharing the spotlight in a basketball-frenzy nation, players come and go. Superstars rise and dominate. Teams toughen up but eventually falter.
What could have been implanted in La Salle and head coach Ramil De Jesus’ system that has whipped the Lady Spikers into championship shape year in and year out? Alongside an excellent coaching staff and talented starters, La Salle banks on its other pool of exceptional athletes for support during trainings, relief during games, and an investment for the future. La Salle has on its side a formidable second unit, and they are the future of the Lady Spikers.
An equally talented squad
Sports news often flood the internet with the usual starters of the Lady Spikers. However, an equally talented squad lies alongside these dominant stars, waiting for their time to shine in the UAAP. The second unit of the Lady Spikers is composed of veteran Mika Esperanza, Dawn Macandili, Camille Cruz, Kim Dy, Alexandra Tan, Carol Cerveza, and Mary Joy Baron to name a few, and they are a constant source of support for the Taft-based squad.
As much as the Lady Spikers need Abigail Marano and Ara Galang to cut through opponents’ defenses, or the towering Mika Reyes to block powerful attacks, the second unit also forms a vital part of every season dashed by the Green-and-White. With most of the members of the second unit being blue-chip recruits from the top high school programs in the country, these athletes are always prepared for the times when the system will need them to break through and deliver.
Training with a champion team
La Salle, through the years, has been fielding dominant players in their own right. With the abundance of exceptionally talented volleyball athletes in La Salle, the graduation of key players in recent seasons has not bothered nor challenged the tradition of dominance inherent to the Lasallian brand of volleyball.
Even with big names in the starting line-up, their alternates should not be discounted just because of the lesser playing time granted to them this season. Training with veterans from a team that is gunning for its fourth straight title, Kim Dy, outside hitter rookie from De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ) shares that playing for a champion team is a fulfilling experience as an athlete.
“It feels good because I get to train with the champion team. Support ko [for the team] is that I can do better,” the rookie Dy shares.
Who to expect
Present in the second unit is another top recruit from DLSZ, rookie libero Dawn Macandili. In the UAAP Girls’ Volleyball tournament, she was awarded as the Best Libero in her final playing year with Zobel. Currently, Macandili alternates with Cienne Cruz to fill in the big shoes left by ace libero Melissa Gohing who graduated last season.
A familiar name from the second unit is Mika Esperanza. The UAAP Season 73 Rookie of the Year currently alternates with Kim Fajardo as the setter for the Lady Spikers. Just like any other talented player, Esperanza always makes her presence felt each time she steps on the court. Being one of the veterans on the squad, Esperanza makes her minutes count every time De Jesus calls her number.
Alongside UAAP Season 75 co-MVP Galang and the emerging Cyd Demecillo stands Dy. She was a former UAAP Girls’ Volleyball MVP and was also awarded as the UAAP Best Blocker during her high school days. Beyond the formidable tandem of Galang and Demecillo, the presence of Dy will definitely bolster the line-up of the squad in the coming seasons. “Hopefully in the years to come, I can help the team continue to become champions,” Dy humbly shares.
“You can’t get everything easily. You really have to work hard for everything,” Dy says regarding her experiences with the team.
What’s in a champion team? La Salle has produced several MVPs and Rookie of the Year awardees in its storied history. It has also produced the great Manilla Santos, whose retired jersey hangs from the rafters of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex. Sooner or later, like what has always happened in the previous years, an athlete from the second unit will rise above the cut. This same athlete will rise beyond all expectations, embodying the tradition of excellence and dominance synonymous to the DLSU Lady Spikers.