A lot was going against the De La Salle University Lady Spikers in their opening match of the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
Two weeks prior, starting opposite hitter Kianna Dy hyper-extended her knee and was only cleared to practice last Thursday. The 5-foot-11 spiker’s injury complicated La Salle’s adjustment period, as they are already adapting to life without magnificent setter Kim Fajardo.
Still, the Lady Spikers displayed their championship mettle and overcame Cherry Rondina’s career game for the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses.
Ramil De Jesus — who is gunning for an 11th title — expects more of these same matches from the other UAAP teams. He does not mind going through five-setters, as he values character-building matches.
“Sinabi ko na sa mga players ‘yun na kung gusto natin manalo, dadaan tayo sa pinakamahirap na parte ng laro,” De Jesus remarked after La Salle’s five-set triumph. “So, hopefully, makapag-adjust sila kaagad kasi every game siguro ine-expect ko na mas matuto or mas maging mature sila sa game.
“So sa ngayon, mabibigyan ko siguro ng passing grade kasi nanalo although makikita mo naman yung character pagdating ng fifth set, yun yung mas maganda.”
La Salle next take on the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons — a team also adjusting to a new mix of main stars. The 10-time UAAP champion coach expects the Lady Spikers to experience more growing pains heading into that match-up.
“Hindi ko pa nakikita lahat, kung baga nangangapa sa isa’t isa kasi di pa namin nakikita kung anong meron ang UP ngayon. Although nawala dun si [Nicole] Tiamzon, si [Kathy] Bersola and yung libero, si [Pia] Gaiser. So malaking bagay din yun para sa team nila,” he shared.
“We’ll see kung anong meron ang UP. By tomorrow siguro, makikita na namin kung anong meron ang UP.”