The preseason has given a majority of the DLSU athletes a boost with just a couple of months left before the opening of UAAP Season 78. With the conclusion of the recent Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, preparations for one of the biggest college tournaments in the country are in full swing.
From July 2 to 9, many of the Lasallian athletes set to compete in Season 78 had successful campaigns in the 2015 Philippine National Games (PNG) Luzon Qualifying Leg held in various venues in the region. The national finals of some sports were held this week, with many Lasallian athletes coming out successful in sports such as Fencing, Volleyball, and Table Tennis.
Most of the Lady Spikers’ offseason has been about the injuries that their key players have succumbed to, with Desiree Cheng’s knee injury being the latest setback the team has suffered since losing Ara Galang and Camille Cruz to knee injuries in the Final Four and Finals, respectively.
July, however, has been much kinder to the UAAP Season 77 runners-up as they clinched the 2015 PNG Volleball title without dropping a game, showing the offensive and defensive prowess that has made them a perennial title contender for nearly a decade.
With injuries hampering the team, Lady Spikers Head Coach Ramil De Jesus relied on veterans Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, and Kim Fajardo, while giving younger players Christine Soyud, Justine Tiu, Mary Joy Baron, and Kim Dy more exposure this early in the preseason tournament, which also included Philippine Super Liga squad Philips Gold and NCAA teams EAC and Letran.
The Lady Spikers began their campaign by notching straight set wins over JRU, 25-17, 25-20, 25-20, and EAC, 25-19, 25-9, 25-17, to barge into the quarterfinals with an unblemished record.
The Lady Spikers continued their winning ways in the knockout rounds as they won their quarterfinals and semifinals matches in straight sets. In their morning game, DLSU defeated Mapua in straight sets, 25-11, 25-16, 25-14, while in the afternoon they knocked out UP in straight sets as well, 25-20, 25-16, 25-19, to advance to the finals against CSB.
In the finals, CSB was no match for the firepower of the Lady Spikers as they fell to DLSU in three sets, 25-21, 25-15, 25-7. It was a balanced effort from the Lady Spikers as the likes of Fajardo, Reyes, Soyud, Tiu, and Baron took turns in blocking CSB’s attacks, scoring off attacks and aces, and forcing the Lady Blazers into costly turnovers, which in the end, prevented them from getting their rhythm.
Fajardo was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Reyes was hailed the Best Middle Blocker. Tiu and Demecillo were also adjudged as the tournament’s Best Opposite Spiker and Best Outside Hitter, respectively.
Like the Lady Spikers, the Green Spikers have also found success in this year’s PNG. After finishing sixth in UAAP Season 77, they managed to make it to the semifinals of the PNG, where they fell to eventual champion UP and third placer EAC, to finish in fourth place.
The Green Spikers went off on a blistering start as they won four games, including their straight set victory over EAC-B, 25-17, 25-21, 25-16, and only one loss against club team Champion Infinity.
The quarterfinals, however, was a tougher hill to climb for the Green Spikers as they needed all five sets to slip past NCAA runner-up CSB, 22-25, 25-22, 32-30, 22-25, 15-10. Faced with UP in the semifinals, the Green Spikers failed to complete another comeback as they fell to the Fighting Maroons in four sets, 25-12, 25-27, 25-16, 13-25. In their third place match up, they were swept out by EAC and eventually finished in fourth place with a record of 7-3.
After finishing fourth in both the Men’s and Women’s Division of the UAAP last year, the DLSU Fencers bounced back in the 2015 PNG by securing two golds, one silver, and three bronze medals.
Facing deficits in both the semifinals and finals of the Men’s Team Foil, Francois Licono spearheaded both comebacks for DLSU, who were down against FEU by six, 39-33, and trailed UP in the finals by as much as 13, 30-17. The Green Fencers eventually clinched both games with scores of 45-44 and 45-43, respectively.
Licono, who also won gold and silver medals in the Men’s Individual Foil and Epee, respectively, was accompanied by Jairus Quevada, Juan Marco Paez, and Jerome Dominguez. Quevada also won the bronze medal for the Men’s Individual Foil competition.
In addition, DLSU clinched the bronze medal in the Men’s Team Epee with Licono, Rayd Orozco, Marco Gatpandan, and Tyrone Nieto. May Montenegro was the only Lady Fencer who came away with a medal, finishing with the bronze medal in the Women’s Individual Foil.
Coming off another loss in the UAAP Season 77 finals at the hands of Ateneo, the Green Batters began their quest for redemption with another runner-up finish, this time at the 2015 PNG.
The Green Batters began their preseason campaign on a high note, pulling off successive victories against fellow UAAP teams Adamson and UP to set up their finals match against Itakura Parts Philippines Corporation (IPPC). After defeating Adamson 8-3, La Salle needed key runs in the fourth inning to slip past UP, 8-5.
Composed mostly of the holdovers from the former PNG champion Philab Ballbusters, IPPC had to outlast a gritty Philippine Air Force team, 9-7, and dominate UST, 13-3, to top their bracket and face La Salle in the finals.
In the finals, IPPC relied on key stops down the stretch to edge past DLSU, 9-8. The Green Batters tried to make one last rally in the final two innings through a crucial score and by forcing a scoreless inning, but IPPC’s Marvin Malig forced an out that eventually sealed La Salle’s fate in silver.
Building on his record-breaking performance in the Swimming National Championships in Singapore, former Green Tanker Johan Aguilar notched four gold medals in the swimming competition of the 2015 PNG.
Known to be the national record holder in the 50-m backstroke, Aguilar topped the 200-m edition of the backstroke while also winning gold medals in the 4×50 relay, 100-m leg, and 50-m butterfly.
“It feels fulfilling because only a few really swim at this age, and to be given the opportunity to still compete and win is a blessing,” the comebacking Aguilar mentioned when asked about his performance. “Moving forward, I hope this helps in my inclusion in future international meets for the Philippine National Team.”
The Lady Paddlers have built on their dominating performance dating back to UAAP Season 77 with Emy Rose Dael winning two gold medals after facing off against teammate Ina Co for an all-DLSU finals and teaming up with Donna Gamilla in the Women’s Doubles events.
Her success, however, did not carry on over to the Mixed Doubles as she and teammate Jerald Cristobal fell to FEU’s Gino Selma and Shamiela Pineda in the semifinals, thus settling for bronze. Their teammates Jethro Yatco and Gamilla, on the other hand, won the silver medal in the same event.
The Green Woodpushers, who finished at the top of UAAP Season 77, added one gold medal and one silver to DLSU’s PNG medal haul. Jan Nigel Galan won the gold in the Rapid event while Giovanni Mejia finished in second place in the Fischer Random Chess/Chess960 event.
The Lady Woodpushers, who finished second in UAAP Season 77, won four medals in the PNG with Bernadette Galas winning the gold medal in the Standard Chess event while Cherry Ann Mejia won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the ASEAN, Rapid, and Blitz events, respectively.
The Green Judokas and Lady Judokas brought home 11 medals, the most from any of the participating DLSU teams in the 2015 PNG. Keith Reyes won the gold in the +100 kg division while Michael Joseph Borja and Adrian Perillo won gold medals in the -73 kg and -60 kg divisions, respectively.
Johann Suarez won the gold medal in dominating the -100 kg division while his teammate Fernando Cortez finished second in the same division. Ivan Oleta was the only other silver medalist, after finishing as the runner-up in the -81 kg division. Fellow Green Judoka Andro Cudao won the bronze medal in that division as well.
David Gordon, Benjamin Bolongaita, and Joshua Oleta won bronze medals in the -55 kg, -60 kg, and -66 kg divisions, respectively, while Arian Keil Galfo was the only Lady Judoka who won a medal, finishing third in the -70 kg division.
Track and Field
Lady Trackster Maureen Schrijvers was the only Trackster to bring home a gold medal for DLSU in Track and Field after she won the Women’s High Jump, by clearing 1.68 meters.
Lyra Bayton and Melissa Escoto rounded out the four-medal haul for the Lady Tracksters as the former won the silver in both the 5,000-m and 10,000-m runs while the latter nabbed the silver in the 100-m hurdles.
Though these Lasallian athletes are in the thick of their preparations for the UAAP, their impressive performances have given the Lasallian community a glimpse of what may come in Season 78, one where La Salle is looking to bounce back and reclaim the General Championship they had previously held for two of the past three seasons.