DLSU LADY SPIKERS: Defend the crown, extend the reign
Mark Escarlote on Feb 03, 2017 09:56 AM
Can a young De La Salle crew extend its reign in the UAAP?
De La Salle reclaimed the crown last year after two seasons of drought.
The Lady Spikers now has to protect their throne void of their main trio that brought the title back to Taft Avenue.
Much of the pressure to keep the title at the hands of the Lady Spikers this 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament falls on the shoulders of graduating setter Kim Fajardo and last year’s Finals Most Valuable Player Kim Kianna Dy.
Fajardo knows the gravity of challenge in front of her this season after the departure of their veteran ‘Big Three’ Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Cyd Demecillo last year, but the fifth year player would rather not overthink it.
“Ayokong dagdagan ng pressure ang sarili ko kasi alam ko naman na ako ‘yung naiwan sa mga seniors. Ngayon, s'yempre, since nandito na ako, ‘yung focus ko andoon na sa UAAP, sa team ko,” said the reigning Best Setter and starting playmaker of PSL-F2 Logistics Manila that saw action in the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.
“So ayoko na mag-entertain ng ibang issues na, paano ‘yan, mga ganoon na, ikaw na lang ang natira, pressure ‘yan, tapos defending (champion) pa. So hindi ko na yun iniisip, hindi na pumapasok sa usap ko ang ganoon,” added Fajardo, who is nursing a partial tear on her plantar fascia she sustained just three weeks before the start of the season.
Dy shared the same view as Fajardo, who had an average of 9.18 excellent sets per frame last year.
“I don't really think of the pressure, kasi if I think of the pressure, mas hindi ako makakagalaw ng maayos,” said Dy, who averaged 8.7 points per game and 0.36 service aces per set last year.
“’Yun hindi ko masyado naiisip,” she added. “I think it's better to think of what you can do than pressure yourself on "kailangan back to back," "kailangan panalo". Ganun. I think playing knowing that what you can do is better kasi doon ka rin kukuha ng confidence mo, doon lalabas ‘yung laro mo.”
Unlike other teams including its archrival Ateneo de Manila University, which they dethroned last year in an epic three-game series in their fifth straight Finals showdown, DLSU had no trainings abroad.
But their championship run under the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers banner in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference, where returning libero Dawn Macandili made history by winning the MVP award, and a bronze medal finish in the import-laden Grand Prix gave the Lady Spikers enough exposure to arm them in the UAAP battles ahead.
Giving the team an extra boost is the return of Desiree Cheng, who has fully recovered from a knee injury that sidelined her last year, while Season 78 Best Blocker Mary Joy Baron will again see action to strengthen DLSU’s middle. And with a mix of young bloods, the Lady Spikers remain as one of the teams to beat.
DLSU takes on Far Eastern University on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s Final Four at the Big Dome.
Catch the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament starting February 4, Saturday live on S+A, S+A HD channel 166 and via livestream.
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