Three games into this young Season 77 volleyball tournament, several trends are already forming for last year’s losing finalist, the DLSU Lady Spikers. Team captain Ara Galang continues to be the primary option and most consistent scorer on offense and support has come from one or two players that most opponents have overlooked.
In last Wednesday’s match against a rebuilding National U Lady Bulldogs, Galang top scored with 15 points while sophomore player Kim Dy contributed a career-high 10 points in a 25-22, 25-12, 25-15 straight-sets win. Outside hitter Cyd Demecillo, who played her first game after missing the Adamson match due to a case of German measles, came up with six points.
Aside from limiting the output of the Lady Bulldogs’ main weapons Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo to 10 and seven points respectively, La Salle also committed fewer errors, 16-27 and dominated the service points, 11-1 to easily beat a spirited but inexperienced NU squad.
The lack of production from 1/3 of the La Salle starting six may spell the difference when the Lady Spikers battle the Ateneo Lady Eagles.
The UST Tigresses proved to be a tougher nut to crack than the NU six but the Green and White squad still found that extra gear when they needed it most for a 25-23, 27-25, 25-17 win.
La Salle held a slim 16-15 lead after the second technical timeout and could not shake off the Tigresses and their heralded rookie EJ Laure. A game UST squad managed to knot the score one last time at 23-all before two hits from Demecillo gave the Lady Spikers the set.
Down 8-12 in the second set and sensing the need for a spark off the bench, DLSU head coach Ramil de Jesus inserted Cienne Cruz in place of starting libero Dawn Macandili and the former stabilized the La Salle back row with superb reception and floor defense. Sophomore Mary Joy Baron also came off the bench to spell the ineffective Dy, scoring five points, three coming from blocks.
Still trailing by 11-16 at the second technical timeout, DLSU rallied to tie the set at 22-all. With the score tied at 25 and the set needing extra points, La Salle capitalized on a UST error for their second set point before Cyd once again scored the take a 2-0 set lead.
The third set can be compared to the last two sets in the game versus NU. Experience, poise, command of the game and dominance from the Lady Spikers overwhelmed the UST six. Never trailing in the third frame, DLSU raced to a 22-16 lead and called on Demecillo’s number thrice to finish off their Espanya counterparts.
What’s wrong with Mika Reyes?
In three games, the starting middle hitter/blocker of La Salle has averaged just seven points a game and at times seemed lost or invisible on offense. While the 4th year Lady Spiker is still a force when it comes to defense and blocking (#2 in the league behind teammate Ara Galang), Reyes’ impact and presence seem to take a back seat from her teammates on the wings.
Ditto can be asked about starter Desiree Cheng. In three games, Cheng has tallied a combined 10 points including a season-low one point against the UST Tigresses. While the outside hitter did tally six excellent digs, the most telling proof of the 2nd year starter’s questionable play was during the third set when a routine volley fell short either because of lack of focus, effort or both.
The lack of production from 1/3 of the La Salle starting six can be negligible against middle-of-the-pack opponents but may spell the difference when the Lady Spikers battle the defending champions Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Can’t win ‘em all
It was a busy day for one of the most respected volleyball minds in the country, Ramil de Jesus. After the final whistle was blown and the Lady Spikers’ third straight win already a foregone conclusion, de Jesus had to troop from the San Juan Arena to the Cuneta Astrodome to coach the Generika Life Savers in the finals of the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, the eight-time UAAP champion coach and his team came up short, 3-1 and settled as first runners-up to the Petron Blaze Lady Boosters. Featuring several legends of La Salle women’s volleyball, Generika lost 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 25-9 in a one-game finals of the import-laden tournament. Former DLSU team captain Abigail Maraño was awarded as the Best Middle Blocker of the tournament.
Not to be contended by coaching one collegiate team and another semi-professional club, coach Ramil was even tasked to lead the women’s senior national volleyball team that will compete in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. Several members of the squad are already familiar to the supporters of the Lady Spikers as Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Kim Fajardo are included in the initial 18-member squad.
After going 3-0 against the contending teams, the Lady Spikers battle a winless UP Lady Maroons on Saturday before facing an eager and hungry FEU Lady Tamaraws on Wednesday, December 12 to close out the year.