UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: DLSU Lady Spikers
De La Salle University's drive for a grand slam will require total team effort and hard work from a team adjusting from the departure of grizzled veteran setter Kim Fajardo.
Key holdovers: Majoy Baron, Kim Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, Desiree Cheng
Key loss: Kim Fajardo
Defending champion De La Salle University is bringing into the season the mentality that it is only as good as its last championship.
For the Lady Spikers, their success in the previous two years is not a guarantee of another rosy 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
They know by heart that their goal of claiming a grand slam – DLSU’s third since achieving the feat in Season 66 to 68 and in Season 73 to 75 – in the swan song of their veterans Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and multi-awarded libero Dawn Macandili would require a lot of hard work and dedication.
A need for total team effort especially after the departure of seasoned setter Kim Fajardo, who led the Taft-based squad to back-to-back titles and DLSU’s tenth title.
“Personally for me, every season, back to zero lahat,” said reigning Most Valuable Player Baron. “Kasi 'yung past season, parang motivation na lang 'yun para kung ano man ang ide-defend namin, sige, defend.”
“Pero ibang composition of ano naman eh, tao 'yung team,” she added. “Si Mich (Cobb) na 'yung magse-set. So for me, back to zero nga, and ibang team ito, and 'yun.
Replacing Fajardo is sophomore setter Michelle Cobb, who will be carrying a huge responsibility just a year after seeing limited action in her debut season.
“Siguro, parang... iniisip ko na lang na it's normal (ang expectations). Given the legacy that Ate Kim left, parang it comes with a lot of expectations,” said the 18-year old playmaker. “Feel ko 'yung pressure talaga... siyempre a lot of people look at our team, maraming naka-tingin. I feel like normal 'yung pressure. I was expecting it also. Pabigat na ng pabigat.”
With Fajardo’s exit the leadership role will now fall on the seniors.
“Yeah, um, hindi lang kasi setter 'yung nawala, leader din 'yung nawala. So parang kami, as seniors, 'yung mga ga-graduate, we're trying to be as a good leader as Ate Kim was,” said Macandili, named Asia’s 2nd Best Libero during the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship.
“So parang nagtutulungan kami na ma-guide 'yung mga bata, na at least may matutunan sila sa amin,” she added. “Michelle, as a setter, has a different technique versus Ate Kim. So kami, buo naman ang tiwala namin kay Michelle. So feeling ko naman na parang madadala pa rin namin 'yung team kasi magtutulungan pa rin kami.”
Even with the departure of Fajardo, the Lady Spikers remain a top title contender with most of its championship core intact.
Aside from Baron, Dy and Macandili, other key returnees are Desiree Cheng, Tin Tiamzon and Aduke Ogunsanya, making DLSU a heavy favorite to win it all once again especially with long-time archrival Ateneo de Manila University on a rebuilding stage.
“For me I don't actually think of it that much coming into the season. Like, why would I feel pressured? Siyempre, the pressure will always be there, but I shouldn't take it in too much,” Dy said. “Just give your all.”
“I know naman how the team works, I know malakas kami, I feel like we're just jelled enough,” she added. “Siyempre may mga improvements pa na kailangan. We'll just see sa season.”
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