Leiah Malaluan got her first taste of action in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday against Far Eastern University – De La Salle University’s fifth game already.
The 5-foot-10 last season Lady Spiker standout missed the first four games due to a minor knee injury.
With La Salle ahead 12-7 in the second set, Malaluan entered the game for open spiker Jolina Dela Cruz and played the rest of the frame.
The Lady Spikers went on to defeat the Lady Tamaraws in straight sets, 25-16, 25-18, 25-21, with Malaluan finishing with a point, an off-the-block kill that ended the second.
In her half-a-set floor time, the 20-year-old hitter out of Lipa, Batangas admitted that she’s still adjusting back.
“Bumabalik pa ako on track kasi after few games na hindi ako naglalaro, and I was just on the bench, naga-adjust pa ako sa loob ng court since bago lang ulit ako,” said Malaluan, a product of De La Salle-Zobel.
“Even though nakaka-train na ako, I need to adjust more since iba nga yung galawan sa loob.”
La Salle interim head coach Noel Orcullo said plans of utilizing Malaluan had been there since last Wednesday when they faced University of the East. However, they opted to push it to Saturday.
The Lady Spikers have the luxury of pushing Malaluan’s debut as they are still undefeated at 5-0, with heavyweights Adamson University and National University as their next opponents.
“Actually, last game, I had plans na rin na gamitin siya. Pero sabi ko nga unti-unti lang. Then yesterday, when we had training, sabi ko sa kanya ‘oh Leiah ready ka baka gamitin ka bukas?’” said Orcullo.
“Hindi naman namin siya minamadali. Unti-unti hanggang sa maibalik niya yung kumpyansa at laro niya.”
Malaluan was a key player of La Salle last season where it finished silver.
She was fifth-best scorer after the elimination round with 193 points on a 30.32 percent efficiency rate, good for ninth. She was also sixth in service department.
But Malaluan herself knows she’s not yet in that lethal form.
“I can’t say any numbers, but I’m still getting ther,e even though… Sige, sabihin natin kaya ko yung ibang skills. Pero at the same time iba pa rin yung 100 percent ako eh. I know it’s not 100 percent.”