Jolina Dela Cruz: A Rookie Unlike Any Other
Anton Roxas on Apr 28, 2019 01:00 PM
Jolina Dela Cruz (#8) is on track to become the leading scorer for the DLSU Lady Spikers in just her rookie season.
In the past eight seasons, the De La Salle University Lady Spikers were led in scoring by four different players: Jacq Alarca (2011), Aby Marano (2012), Ara Galang (2013-2016) and Kim Dy (2017-2018). This year, a 19-year old rookie has stepped up in La Salle’s quest for a historic four-peat and her name is Jolina Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz is currently averaging 10.7 points per match. While she has often been compared to Galang because of the similarities in the way they play, Dela Cruz is doing something the former UAAP MVP wasn’t able to do and that’s lead the team in scoring as a rookie.
That’s a very remarkable accomplishment considering that just three years ago, there were doubts as to whether Dela Cruz had what it takes to be a Lady Spiker.
“May mga tao po na sasabihin, ‘Ang daming player sa La Salle. Kaya mo bang makipagsabay diyan? Kaya mo bang ma meet yung standards ng coach mo?’ Sobrang naging challenge sa akin na, ‘Hala. Kaya ko ba ‘to?’” recalled Dela Cruz.
When Dela Cruz was in her 4th year of High School at the Academia de San Lorenzo in her hometown of Bulacan, she wasalready invited to train in La Salle by none other than Coach Ramil De Jesus. The legendary mentor already took notice of Dela Cruz’s talent even before she participated in the 9thASEAN School Games in Singapore where she teamed up to represent the Philippines with the likes of Eya Laure, MafeGalanza, Alyssa Solomon and current teammate Marionne Alba.
For Dela Cruz, it was because she was recruited early by De Jesus that she decided to continue her volleyball journey in Taft Avenue.
“Sila Coach, never sila nag-stop sa akin. Lagi ako nilapinupuntahan sa school. Grabe si Coach Ramil, super father figure. Proud ako na napunta ako sa La Salle para maging coach si Coach Ramil. Lahat naman talaga naglalaro for him. Yung effort na binibigay niya kasi, sa training at sa bawat isa, yungpagtuturo, di ka niya susukuan,” said Dela Cruz.
Ironically, the 11-time UAAP Champion Coach also traces his roots in Bulacan where he first played the sport competitively as a member of the varsity team of Sacred Heart Academy. His prized recruit was born in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and together, they are now on the road to winning a fourth straight UAAP title, an achievement that has never been accomplished by La Salle in Women’s Volleyball.
But, according to Dela Cruz, they are not looking that far ahead. The Lady Spikers have been instructed by Coach Ramil to take a one-game-at-a-time approach.
“Kung ano yung next na kalaban namin, doon niya kami pinapa-focus. Yung next game namin is FEU.”
Should La Salle win against FEU in the Finals rematch, they will have secured a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four. The Lady Spikers have been playing their best volleyball as of late, winning their last five matches including a straight sets win against rival Ateneo whom they have swept in the elimination round this year. Dela Cruz attributes their recent success to one crucial ingredient.
“Yung determination namin na gusto talaga namin manalo. Ganun naman lagi yung sinasabi ni Coach. ‘Mananalo ka kungmas gusto mo manalo’.”
When Dela Cruz was born on September 5, 1999, her parents, Arthur and Lilia didn’t have a hard time coming up with a name for their third child after having two older girls, Jocelyn and Jenny.
“Kapanahunan daw ni Jolina Magdangal. Sabi ng Mama ko, doon daw ako pinangalan dahil sikat na sikat daw si Jolina Magdangal,” shared Dela Cruz.
Named after a celebrity, Jolina Dela Cruz’s stardom is just about to ready to rise in the UAAP. As early as now, her success is already being celebrated.