When National University completed its sweep of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament, winning its first championship in 65 years, De La Salle University found themselves on the losing side of the floor.
According to assistant coach Noel Orcullo of the Lady Spikers, the players made a promise that things would be different in Season 85.
Almost a year later, La Salle is back on top of the women’s volleyball world, exacting revenge on the Lady Bulldogs this season on Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“Last season talagang sobrang dominating sila eh, siguro dahil sa tagal nilang magkakasama and short preparation lang kami. Yun nga sabi namin by next year sigurado makapagpeprepare tayo nang maayos, makakasabay na tayo diyan,” said Orcullo moments after the Lady Spikers won their 12th crown and their first since Season 80.
“Kahit papaano, pangako ng mga bata coach babawi kami pagdating ng Season 85 so ito nakuha, yung tiyaga, yung sakripisyo, lahat na ng factor, yung malayo sila sa family nila, hindi halos nauwi so sobrang fulfilling at sobrang thankful dahil binigay sa amin ito ni Lord.”
Leading La Salle on and off the court were seniors and first-time champions Jolina Dela Cruz and Mars Alba, with Alba being hailed as the Finals MVP.
It was a long wait for these two leaders. During their rookie year in Season 81, they fell short and finished in just third place. Then the pandemic hit, canceling Seasons 82 and 83. Last year, they settled for silver against NU.
“Sobrang saya, sobrang fulfilling ng pakiramdam kasi yun nga first year namin ni Jols third place lang kami, yung second year nagka-pandemic, third year second lang yung last season, and ngayon pinangako ko sa sarili ko hindi ako gagraduate ng hindi ako makakapagpa-champion sa La Salle,” said Alba.
“Yun yung goal namin ni Jols, third, second, baka iniintay na tayo sa panghuling year natin na tayo naman yung magchachampion,” she added.
“Very fulfilling siya kasi alam mo yun, simula rookie year namin parang wala kaming experience na magchampion eh so parang kumakayod kami and nagbabakasakali kami every year na makuha yung ganong opportunity,” said Dela Cruz.
“Sobrang saya lang talaga na ngayon, down kami ng two sets tapos ginapang hanggang fifth set sobrang saya. Masayang makuha yung panalo kapag pinaghirapan.”
Alba recorded 16 excellent sets and three points while guiding four Lady Spikers to score in double figures, with Angel Canino contributing 19 points, Thea Gagate with 17, Shevana Laput with 12, and Fifi Sharma with 11.
Meanwhile, Dela Cruz was limited to six points in just three sets played but provided much-needed leadership.
“Sobrang proud ako sa mga bata kasi alam mo yun kahit may mawala, parang kaya nila magperform nang maayos without their ates,” said the first best opposite spiker.
“Sobrang laki ng tiwala ko sa kanila na kahit down kami, kaya nila iangat yung mga sarili nila.”