After Season 82 was suspended because of the pandemic, Season 84 saw the long-awaited return of the Lady Spikers. It had been three years since DLSU won the Women’s Volleyball championship and fans saw new faces for the Green and White, one of them being opposite hitter Alleiah Malaluan. However, the stars aligned for the rookie, who immediately turned heads after bursting onto the scene with a dominant performance, scoring 15 points in her debut game in a win against the rival Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Returning to the UAAP court for her sophomore season, Malaluan looks to keep the momentum of her superb rookie year. After finding early success with the Lady Spikers in Season 84, the former De La Salle Santiago Zobel School (DLSZ) standout must step into her role as a leader to her teammates.
Behind the prodigy
There is no doubt that Malaluan is more than ready to join the star-studded ranks of her predecessors’ spiking legacy. However, as the up-and-coming phenom prepares for the role, she looks back on the individuals who led her to become one of the league’s rising stars.
“My mom has not only been very supportive throughout my volleyball career, but also outside of my life as an athlete. I always open up [to her] about what’s happening in my life and she’s the best source of advice whenever I need it,” reveals the outside hitter—who is known to have a very close relationship with her mom, as seen how she is always present in her daughter’s games even before Malaluan played in the UAAP. “I can say that my mom and I have the best mother-daughter relationship because we’re like sisters,” the DLSU sophomore adds.
Playing for a team with a winning history that has garnered 11 UAAP Women’s Volleyball titles, Malaluan is determined to succeed the many champions that DLSU has produced since Season 56. When asked who among the former Lady Spikers she looks up to, she shares “Sometimes, we train with the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers. I really look up to ate Aby (Maraño) and ate Kianna (Dy) the most because they take their time in teaching and motivating us.”
Under the mentorship of Lady Spikers Head Coach Ramil de Jesus, she comments on how the championship-caliber volleyball mastermind impacts her play, “The coaches focus more on giving us points for improvement than handing out compliments.” Among her favorite moments from her rookie year were the times she received the famed high fives and fist bumps from de Jesus. “The team morale easily improves since we take it as an honor to get those from coach,” claims Malaluan.
As she builds momentum in Season 85, Malaluan and the rest of the Lady Spikers aim to reclaim the UAAP Women’s Volleyball crown to Taft. After their preseason success at the Shakey’s Super League, the Lady Spikers are more prepared to return to the finals, with an even hungrier appetite to seek revenge from their undefeated rival National University Lady Bulldogs after slipping to them in second place last UAAP Season 84. The question remains: Fueled by the people who inspire her, what has the former Palarong Pambansa standout been working on to take her game to the next level?
Eyes on the prize
Following a stellar career in the UAAP Juniors, Malaluan’s arrival in the collegiate volleyball scene has long been anticipated. With multiple schools vying to acquire her skills and talent after her dominance at the high school level, the prized recruit from DLSZ chose to rally on the Green and White—which she has been representing since elementary. More than anything, she sees it as a dream come true to play at the collegiate level for La Salle. “Comparing UAAP to other leagues I’ve competed in, I can say the atmosphere is really different,” shares the 5-foot-10 open spiker.
With high expectations prior to her debut season, the former UAAP Juniors Best Outside Hitter lived up to the hype and delivered 193 points after the elimination round, ranking fifth in scoring, sixth in serving, and ninth in spiking. Despite this, Malaluan believes she still has to put in tremendous effort both in the departments of technical ability and fortitude. “I’m still working to improve since improvement never stops naman sa isang athlete. Aside from that, I’m still working on having more confidence both inside and outside the court, and having a strong mindset whenever I play,” admits the 20-year-old sophomore. Aside from bettering her skillset, she also explains that the mental aspect has also been a focal point of her development as she hones the mindset and confidence of a champion.
Joined by a championship-caliber squad and bolstered with the additions of standout rookies, including Angel Canino and Amie Provido, Malaluan adds that the team has been working cohesively with the strong-willed hopes of making another run to the finals. The explosive outside hitter shares that it is a joint effort for everyone on the roster, citing camaraderie and communication as necessary aspects to develop a team that can once again hoist the championship trophy. Malaluan and the Lady Spikers are keen to stay steadfast in their journey to the top. Preparing for whatever the season has for them, the team reminds themselves to “remain positive despite the situation.”
Though the challenge may seem daunting, Malaluan spurs the Lady Archers to build on their foundation of trust. As a team, they must continue to strengthen their belief in one another, in the coaching staff, and in the system of play that has proven to be successful many times in the past. “Our goal for the upcoming season is to bring back the crown sa University. We work hard during trainings, we make sure whatever we do is always quality rather than quantity, and we always push ourselves since we want to be champions again,” she ends.
As of writing, the DLSU Lady Spikers have continued to be a presence on the court as they hold an unbeaten five-game win streak in Season 85.