One of the questions the DLSU Lady Spikers program faced months before the opening of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament was whether or not veteran spiker Des Cheng would return for her final year of eligibility.
A DLSU student since 2013, Cheng has endured a tumultuous career in terms of injuries after having to deal with a Torn ACL issue which kept her out for a season. In addition to that, Cheng has also had to remedy other nagging injuries to her body in order to compete at her fullest of capabilities.
Nonetheless, Cheng was able to bounce back and even won Finals MVP in the Lady Spikers’ 2017 title season. After helping La Salle win another championship a year later, many wondered if Cheng would return in 2019.
The truth, according to Cheng herself, is she decided not to come back. In fact, the La Salle star already had a plan to inform Lady Spikers coach Ramil De Jesus of her plan.
But in the last minute, that changed.
“Parang feel ko siguro, ‘Stop na,’ kasi iba yung training nang college sa PSL sa other level na, kasi diba pag college ka twice, thrice a day, then one week, 7 days a week. Pero pag sa other leagues, once a day,” she said, remembering her mindset back then.
“Yun yung iniisip ko talaga, but then parang yung time magpapaalam na ako kay coach, as in magpapaalam na ako nasasabihin ko na kung pwede mag stop na ako, ganyan, parang bigla akong nawala na kinain ko lahat na sinabi ko, lahat ng plans ko.”
The injuries to Cheng’s body and the workload of being part of DLSU’s volleyball team had her intent on ending her collegiate career, but once she heard De Jesus say that the Lady Spikers still needed her services in their quest for a 4-peat, she changed her mind in the snap of a finger.
“Bigla nalang ako napa-oo nung sinabi niya na somehow, kailangan ka pa namin. Parang ako, shocks. Yung sasabihin ko na coach pwede ba, ganon, sinabi niya yun, tapos sabi ko, ay coach, sige, I’ll play na po, I’ll help po. Tutulong ako sa team kasi sayang naman if ever may chance.”
Cheng went on to explain that the reason it was so easy for her to change her mind was because she felt she had more to give to the school which had given her so much.
“Hindi pa sapat yung nabigay ko sa La Salle na sobra-sobra yung binigay nila saakin. Honestly talaga. Sobra-sobrang support and hindi nila ako binitawan,” she explained.
A major part of that is De Jesus, who has been like a parental figure for Cheng.
“Sobrang father figure. Wala kasi yung dad ko dito sa Manila. Every day namin kasama si Coach Ramil. 24/7, nag me-meeting pa kami sa gabi. So like, ‘Ah, I have a father,’ ganyan, ganyan.”
Cheng and the rest of the Lady Spikers are in preparation to defend their title, which will be more difficult now that the veteran trio of Kim Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili have graduated.
In a team composed of so many new faces, Cheng will have to be the leader and guiding voice.
“May pressure syempre. Never naman siya nawala eh, yung pressure sa every game, every pagdadating ng UAAP, nandiyan yung pressure. What more kapag naglalaro ka na talaga?” she said.
She also admitted that the chance to win 4 straight titles, something no team has done in the UAAP Final Four era, provides a lot of motivation.
“Yeah, cause if ever we get the championship, syempre, it’s history. It’s history dito sa La Salle. Sobrang nakakakaba, nakaka-excite na parang ang sarap sa feeling na magiging part ako, if ever, sana, hopefully talaga.”