As it turns out, the De La Salle Lady Spikers’ limited appearances and tournament participation in the off-season were not by choice.
While most of the eight-team UAAP field were joining major tournaments left and right, the Taft crew was low-key, only joining the 2018 Unigames. Even there, their lineup was filled with Senior High School students.
Why? Injuries were the culprit, says Ramil De Jesus, the mastermind behind La Salle’s top notch women’s volleyball program.
“Si Tintin (Tiamzon) after ng beach volley may plantar (fasciitis). Si Aduke (Ogunsanya) may ankle problems siya. Si Des (Cheng) nagkaron ng hamstring problem then after nun, nagkaron sa quads naman,” shared the head coach. “Wala talagang possible na tournament kaming masalihan kasi nagre-recover at nagte-therapy ‘yung mga bata.”
“Hindi siya voluntary na ayaw lang namin sumali. Hindi naman ganun. Mas gusto ko nga makapag-participate kasi madami akong rookie ngayon eh,” he added.
Due to the team’s silence, fans, spectators, and even other squads were left with no solid picture of how they will perform in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament. Predictions, though good, were solely based on trust that De Jesus, given his winning record, has a plan.
With a four-set victory over rival Ateneo Lady Eagles in the opening weekend of the competition, it looks as if the living legend indeed has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.
Did the lack of scouting reports on them help the squad score win number one?
“Hindi mo masasabi kasi makikita mo medyo tight din maglaro kanina. Tulad ng mga rookies ko, dapat doon (sa off-season) na-expose ng mas maaga,” he said. “Na-late kami dun sa calendar na tina-target ko which is dapat ginagawa namin early in September. Nagawa namin January na. Hindi ko masasabi na advantage.”
La Salle’s stars come and go but De Jesus’ system is here to stay.
“Ako naman, every year palagi tinitignan ko kung ano ‘yung kaya ng kalaban and then pinipilit ko lang humabol sa ganung klase ng level na anuman meron,” the 11-time UAAP champion mentor shared.
“Although may mawala, may madagdag, kailangan nandun kami sa ganung level kasi kung hindi, mapag-iiwanan kami,” he closed.
La Salle faces Adamson next, Saturday (February 23), 4PM at the FilOil Flying V Centre.