In UAAP Seaon 77, the DLSU Green Spikers were especially disappointing to watch. Even with talent across the board, the boys from Taft sunk to sixth place and were miles away from the Final Four picture.
One can credit their record to the absence of high-flying Raymark Woo. Although La Salle definitely had multiple spikers to fill in his shoes, Woo had established himself as the team’s most consistent scorer in the past seasons.
Woo tore his ACL right before Season 77. According to him, the tear happened in a friendly game with some of his La Salle seniors last year in July at Pandacan, Manila. “Ganun talaga, nangyayari talaga ‘yung ganyan,” Woo quipped as he forlornly told the tale of his injury.
Toiling through therapy and rehab, Woo worked his way back to shape. The La Salle team captain also had to rework his form from a single-leg landing to a double-leg landing to lessen the load on his right knee. Working through adversity wasn’t new to Woo who has lived with heart complications and asthma throughout his life.
“Hindi namin siya tinaratong baby,” answered La Salle head coach, Ron Dulay when asked about his star’s recuperation. “Tinarababo niya na agad siyang makabalik sa form niya. Nakapag-drills nga siya agad weeks ahead of schedule.”
Meanwhile, the Green Spikers where stumbling through Season 77. Bar a surprising second round win against eventual finalists, NU Bulldogs, there was barely any sign of progress for a team filled with decorated, graduating veterans.
“Kung ako ang tatanungin, kaya naman nila dapat. Hindi naman sila dehado noon sa skills o sa height. Ang kaso nga lang, lumapit sa akin ‘yung ibang mga rookies sa team tapos nagkaproblema daw with their seniors na hindi naayos. Sayang lang,” Woo says of the season he sat out.
In his return to the lineup in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference, Woo has made up for lost time. The 5’10 open hitter has scored in double figures for his team’s first four games and has shown that he can still attack from anywhere on the court as he is featured in multiple combination plays and back row plays.
Although he is admittedly not in full form yet, Woo has been working hardest in adjusting to his new role as team captain. “Pinakikinggan ko ‘yung suggestions ng mga teammates ko. Hindi porque ako ‘yung team captain, ako lang ‘yung tama. Gusto ko buong team may input sa mga gagawin namin,” said the third year skipper, adding that he hopes that internal issues won’t plague his team as it did last year.
So far, the La Sallians have shown tremendous improvement in the Spikers’ Turf. Utilizing a more balanced approach to attacking and consistent floor defense, DLSU merited a 3-1 record with their lone loss being a close match against the dominant Ateneo Blue Eagles. They have also earned a berth into the Top 8 elimination phase of the tournament where mightier challenges, like the NU Bulldogs and EAC Generals await.
Woo remains optimistic about hos recovery and his team’s chance at a title run in the Spikers’ Turf. With Woo in tow, La Salle is inching closer to regaining their lost volleyball glory.