UAAP Season 81: DLSU Lady Spikers go “four” the win
Mark Escarlote on Feb 15, 2019 08:06 AM
De La Salle University looks to extend its reign in the UAAP.
De La Salle University sets its eyes on accomplishing a feat it has failed to complete for the past two decades.
The Lady Spikers will have their third attempt for a four-peat as they look to extend their reign in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
However, the Taft-based squad, which swept Far Eastern University in the title series last year, is sure to face a tough challenge from the rest of the field and an uphill climb after losing key players following its third grand slam.
Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and libero Dawn Macandili exited last season after exhausting all their playing eligibility while Gyra Barroga and Arianne Layug decided to forego their remaining playing years to climb to the semi-pro league.
“Medyo malaki ang adjustment. Nag-struggle rin kami in the beginning like suddenly lang wala na bigla ‘yung ibang players namin na we expected to play this year,” said Tin Tiamzon, one of the handful of grizzled veterans left in head coach Ramil De Jesus’ roster. “Naka-adjust naman po kami slowly but surely. It takes a lot of trust kay coach, sa isa’t isa para mag-bond pa kami as a team.”
DLSU lost a combined 25.5 points per game from the duo of Dy and Baron, the Lady Spikers’ top two scoring options last year. And Tiamzon knows that she have to step up her game to help holdovers Des Cheng, Aduke Ogunsanya and May Luna carry much of the scoring load.
“Ang laki din ng adjustment na ginagawa namin with coach. Talagang yun yung main focus namin for the last how many weeks para ma-improve ang attacking percentage namin,” said Tiamzon, who averaged 7.8 points per outing in Season 80.
Baron’s departure also left a huge hole in the middle. As a remedy, the Lady Spikers tapped the services of NCAA’s multi-awarded middle blocker and former national team member Lourdes Clemente, who is taking her graduate studies in DLSU.
The one-and-done 6-foot-2 recruit joined the Lady Spikers after graduating from University of Perpetual Help, where she played for four years.
NCAA rules do not allow players who completed their academic degrees to extend their playing eligibility to a fifth year through graduate studies. UAAP allows this setup and in the case of Clemente, who is a non-UAAP team transferee, the residency rule does not apply.
CJ Saga, on the other hand, will have big shoes to fill on floor defense while expectations are high on rookies Jolina dela Cruz and Erika Santos.
Setter Michelle Cobb also knows that she has an important duty as the pilot of the team inside the court.
“Parang siguro as a setter din, parang that’s your responsibility to parang be the driver of the team. So, I guess that comes with it na rin. Parang that’s my responsibility so I have to step up din,” said the third year playmaker.
Despite the doubts on DLSU’s campaign with a rebuilding roster, the Lady Spikers remain positive of their chances of completing a historic feat that eluded them in Season 69 (suspended) and Season 76, when archrival Ateneo de Manila University dethroned them.
“Hopefully, sana makuha namin. We are working hard naman para makuha ‘yung 4-peat kasi syempre, gusto namin lahat ‘yun. And hindi lang naman kami, it’s for the Lasallian community,” said Cheng.
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