Game 1 of the UAAP Season 79 Volleyball Finals proved to be one of the most grueling games for the defending champions, the DLSU Lady Spikers, this season, more so for third-year player Desiree Cheng.
Cheng’s jitters were apparent during the first two sets of the game, as her mistimed receptions and attacks surrendered crucial points to the ADMU Lady Eagles and allowed them to take the opening set. It was not until the latter part of the second set that Cheng started to show some life, where her cross court kill tied the second set at 27. The Lady Spikers would eventually take the second set at 29-27, before winning the third and fourth sets.
Cheng finished with 10 points in the win, tied with Kim Fajardo for the third-highest output on the team.
“Sinabi sa akin ni Coach [Ramil De Jesus] na magfocus lang ako and wag isipin yung error,” Cheng said on how they remained steadfast despite Ateneo gaining momentum.(Coach Ramil told me to just focus on the game and not think about errors.)
It was a welcome development for the veteran Lady Spiker, who has had her fair share of critics on social media. More than anything else, her performance in Game 1 silenced them as she proved that she could bounce back on the biggest stage of the tournament.
On the court, Cheng was also a frequent target of the opponents, who would serve the ball in her direction hoping she would commit an error. Today, that proved to be ineffective as she learned to adjust and trust in De Jesus. With only a win separating her and the title, Cheng remains zeroed in and focused on game preparations, and not at the flak coming from her critics.
“Personally, pag malapit na yung games, tiniturn off ko yung social media,” Cheng said, as she learned from a previous incident where her emotions got the best of her.
The fourth-year Lady Spiker is only playing her third year after she sat out the entire 2016 season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason, forcing her to watch DLSU overcome ADMU in three games. Now that she’s back, she has the opportunity to put a fitting end to what was a long year for her and the rest of the Lady Spikers.