SportsUAAP: New era of Lady Spikers emerges, Morente’s fate undecided
UAAP: New era of Lady Spikers emerges, Morente’s fate undecided

Once again, the DLSU Lady Spikers will showcase their grit and determination as they gun for their fourth consecutive title in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament. Last season, La Salle faced a different opponent other than their archrivals in the championship to claim their eleventh overall title. The FEU Lady Tamaraws were outplayed by La Salle in straight games in a best-of-three matchup to achieve the rare feat of winning a three-peat.

However, this season will be a different tale for the ladies of Taft Avenue. Not only did they lose key veterans Majoy Baron; outside hitter, Kianna Dy; and fan-favorite libero, Dawn Macandili—who was dubbed the best libero of Season 81 due to her scintillating floor defense—several new names will also be introduced to represent the Green-and-White.

Head coach Ramil De Jesus will now have to rely on Desiree Cheng and the seniors to lead the team and help him bid for their twelfth title. Iba ang composition ng team ngayon, so medyo ‘di pa natin masasabi kung ano ang ikikilos nito during UAAP,” says De Jesus as the renowned coach talks about the daunting task that awaits them as the season commences.

(The team’s composition is different now, so it’s too early to comment about how they will perform during this year’s UAAP.)

 

Preparations for the season

Nakita namin yung mga need iimprove ng team so para pagdating namin dito saManila, focus na kami sa kailangan namin iimprovesa mga kailangan na adjustments,” explains team captain Cheng with regard to what the team did in Baguio City to prepare for the upcoming season.

(We saw the things that the team needs to improve on so that when we get back to Manila, we will be focusing on those to make the necessary adjustments.)

The Lady Spikers train annually in Baguio City to physically and mentally condition themselves before they head into a new season. This year, they had tune-up games with some of the city’s men’s volleyball teams to determine what skills they would need to refine.

The team from Taft also competed in the University Games (UniGames) held last October 21-28, 2018 in Dumaguete City. However, the Lady Spikers failed to advance to the Finals round, unlike their first runner up finish in the 2017 UniGames.

 

 

 

 

Major changes

Unlike the previous season wherein the Lady Spikers had go-to players in the form of Dy and Baron, coach Ramil expects May Luna, Tin Tiamzon, and Cheng, being considered as veterans, to step up. “Sila yung ineexpect kong maglelead ng team andmagseset ng example para sa mga new players,De Jesus expresses. In turn, new prospects were selected to cover the roles left by the outgoing players.

(I expect that they will be the ones leading the team and setting an example for the new players.)

More so, blocking may not remain to be the strong suit for DLSU since most of the sizeable blockers have graduated. In line with this,  the head coach had to adjust their playing style as well to see what zones would best fit each player in his smaller lineup. One pivotal consideration is their focus on floor defense to fill up their disadvantage in terms of blocking. “Well, siguro ngayon ay yung floor defense ang naiwan kasi ngayon na isa sa mga strengths ng team namin is service and defense. Ngayon, naging smaller yung team so mahirap magconcentrate sa blocking, so more on floor defense kami and service and also, ngayon medyo pinopolish ko yung attack,” De Jesus shares.

 

An uphill trail

Coach Ramil and the Lady Spikers will course through different hurdles in the upcoming season but for now the team’s main goal is to reach the top four. He sees it as a great achievement considering how young the team is. In a long-term aspect, it shall boost the confidence of the newcomers as they become the next frontliners of La Salle. “The following year siguro, makakaadjust na kami and then masasabi ko nang may materials ako, and well makikita ko na maganda yung magiging resulta ng next season,” De Jesus adds further.

On the other hand, what he expects to be their main problem comes with experience. Character development along with work ethic is what he tries to instill in his rookies. He always tells them about the importance of discipline and how it can take an individual to places. This is why  the veteran coach sees this year as exposure for his new batch of Lady Spikers. “Dapat palaging proud pag nakapagsuot ka na may nakasulat na ‘La Salle’ at pagka nakasulat yun, palagi dapat hindi ka natatalo, yun palagi,” De Jesus emphasized.

(You should always feel proud whenever you wear something that has “La Salle” written on it , and whenever that’s written, you shouldn’t lose, always.)

 

On Michelle Morente

According to De Jesus, it is up to the De La Salle Brothers whether Ateneo transferee Michelle Morente would play for the indoor volleyball tournament. “Actually si Morente ngayon ay nasa Brothers ang decision. Kasi nung naglaro ‘yan noong beach volley[ball], mga Brothers din ang nagdecide kasi ang plano talaga sa kanya ay tinanggap siya ng La Salle para mag-aral hindi para paglaruin. Yun yung agreement,” coach Ramil clarifies with The LaSallian.

As of press time, there is no decision yet on whether or not Morente would be suiting up with her fellow teammates to represent DLSU.

However, despite all of these, having a relatively young team won’t stop the Lady Spikers from displaying finesse and dominance inside the court. One can expect La Salle to still fight for the ultimate prize as they wholeheartedly vie for a glorious four-peat championship.