SportsCheng, Tiamzon display fire and desire heading into final stretch
Cheng, Tiamzon display fire and desire heading into final stretch

For the ninth consecutive year, the DLSU Lady Spikers are once again on the way to the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals. They are just one step away from a championship repeat, but much has changed since winning it all last season. The gap left by the departure of key senior players proved to be larger than expected, but it has not swayed the Lasallians one bit.

With the absence of Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo, DLSU was thought to have lost its potent offense, but holdovers Tin Tiamzon and Desiree Cheng have been able to fill the shoes of the Lady Spikers’ alumnae. The two struggled for consistency throughout the tournament but delivered just in the nick of time in the Final Four.

Cheng’s road to redemption

Cheng sat out last season due to a knee injury and missed the team’s championship run.  She has scored in double digits in six of her team’s last seven games, including an 11 point performance in their semi-final encounter with the UST Golden Tigresses last April 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The third year player, however, has also struggled for the most part. She has battled with inconsistency, committing crucial errors, but has remained firm and taken the situation as a challenge to continue improving.

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In their Final Four victory, Cheng scored seven points in the first set alone. Amidst the boos of the opposition, she remained positive and sought to spread her energy throughout her team. “Mas na-challenge ako sa kanila [fans], mas naging ganado akong maglaro,” she exclaimed. (Thanks to them, I became more challenged and encouraged to play better.)

Furthermore, she also closed out the opening set for DLSU over UST, 25-14, with a service ace. After being subbed out the third set, which La Salle lost, she was seen being attended to by their physical therapist.

She later on explained that she got injured during practice and that she was still having trouble with her knee. Despite this, she was able to pull off a commendable performance for her squad. “Aggressive lang to play kahit na alam ko [may injury].”

The Lady Spiker remains confident that her injury will not affect her come the finals series. “Kaya naman. Konti nalang eh, syempre, diba?” (It’s bearable [the injury]. We’re nearly there, right?) She continues her journey for her first championship and reiterates that it will surely be special. “Gusto namin manalo, gusto namin kunin yung championship so more aggressive kami.” (We want to win, we want to get the championship so we’ll be more aggressive.)

No nonsense mindset for Tiamzon 

In the Lasallians’ victory over the Thomasians, Tiamzon complemented her offensive prowess with what could be her best defensive performance of the season so far. The sophomore chipped in 13 points on 10 attacks and also finished with 13 excellent digs.

Offensively, Tiamzon kept the Lady Spikers chugging, particularly in the third set. With the Golden Tigresses closing in on set-point, the outside hitter sought to keep the Green-and-White afloat. Tiamzon herself sparked a personal run as she scored three unanswered points capped off by a cross court kill to level the scores at 24-all.

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“All I wanted was to finish the game as much as I can for the team tsaka yung kapit na sinasabi ni coach [Ramil De Jesus] yung hinahanap niya. Gusto ko iyan ipakita sa kanya.” (Coach is also looking for that mindset of his of holding on. That’s what I want to show).

Although the Golden Tigresses sealed the set with a 26-24 scoreline, Tiamzon felt that her efforts were not wasted as she swung momentum back to La Salle just in time for what would become the final set of the match.

She explained to The LaSallian and said, “In a way, even if we lost the third set, the momentum [was with us already]. We felt the momentum shifting to us [towards the end of the third set].”

Critics of Tiamzon lashed out at her struggles in digging and receiving as the Lady Spiker confidently took the situation as a challenge in their daily training sessions, and is relieved to see her pain and efforts pay off.  “I’m happy in a way [that] I helped Ate Dawn [because] she works so hard on defense [and I want to lessen her load],” she said on her improved play.

Heart and perseverance

The duo of Tiamzon and Cheng are definitely eager to carry on their individual progress, and most importantly, get back at the ADMU Lady Eagles for sweeping DLSU in the elimination round. The prior mentioned that it will take heart and perseverance from the team to keep the much coveted women’s volleyball championship in Taft Avenue. Furthermore, they would also like to give senior team captain Kim Fajardo another championship before she concludes her career with the Green-and-White.

Tiamzon colluded with a message to the Lasallian community, saying, “Thank you very much for supporting us even during our losses and that you’re [all] sticking with us throughout the whole journey.” The Lady Spikers and Lady Eagles will square off anew in Game 1 of the finals on Tuesday, May 2, at 4 pm in the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

This article has been edited due to updates on the finals schedule.