UAAP Season 81: Jolina Dela Cruz wants to make name for herself
Mark Escarlote on Mar 08, 2019 09:59 AM
Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz is slowly building a reputation as the next rising star of De La Salle University.
Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz had her eyes looking down on the floor as she followed De La Salle University head coach Ramil De Jesus and veterans May Luna and Des Cheng inside the press room of the MOA Arena.
Obviously, overwhelmed by the number of reporters and photographers mobbing them near the table lined up with recorders and phones, the freshman clenched her hands and looked at her teammates and mentor before answering question directed at her.
“Siyempre po parang honor po ‘yun sa akin na isinama ako ni coach sa starters,” said Dela Cruz, who debuted in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament as a starter for the three-time defending champions Lady Spikers.
The Bulakena introduced herself to volleyball fans in the best possible way by dropping 11 points in the most-anticipated collegiate rivalry match in front of a massive crowd.
Dela Cruz had an impressive performance that helped DLSU, which many believed to be a rebuilding team after the departure of key players, crush archrival Ateneo de Manila University in four sets to open the season.
Her powerful hits, skills and heady plays reminded many of the court presence of former DLSU star Victonara "Ara" Galang, the player Dela Cruz idolizes alongside another Lady Spiker legend Manilla Santos.
Donning the same jersey no. 8, fans couldn’t help but tag Dela Cruz as the next Galang, who in her rookie year actually wore jersey no. 10 before switching to no. 8.
But Dela Cruz would rather focus on just playing her usual game – the one that got the attention of De Jesus during her stint in the Palarong Pambansa.
“Kailangan po talaga sa lahat ng gagawin mo dapat confident ka,” said the 19-year-old AB Sports Studies student.
“Thankful po ako na nasama ako dito at alam ko na kailangan ako ng team,” added the Academia de San Lorenzo-Bulacan product.
In comparison with Galang, Dela Cruz got five more points than the former Lady Spiker’s total in her debut against Adamson in a four-set win back in Season 74. In her first Ateneo-La Salle Game, Galang only played one set and finished with three points.
Galang, who is currently playing for club team F2 Logistics, went on winning that season’s rookie of the year award after averaging 9.21 points per game and topping the service game with 0.56 aces per set.
Dela Cruz’s numbers in her first five games: 12 points per game with 28.92% success rate in attacks.
With nine more games to play in the elimination round, one could just imagine what kind of impact Dela Cruz will deliver in DLSU’s bid for a historic four-peat.
Dela Cruz’s performance early in her collegiate career is an indication that she is not looking to be the next Ara Galang.
She wants to make a name for herself as the Jolina Dela Cruz of this generation’s Lady Spikers.
A player worthy to sit alongside other DLSU greats.