CEBU CITY – With star setter Kim Fajardo stepping out of De La Salle University, head coach Ramil de Jesus is searching for her heir apparent.
He found not one – but two – young players who could fill the void left by her absence – Michelle Cobb and Carmel June Saga.
At the sidelines of F2 Logistics’ exhibition match against Cebu All-Star squad, de Jesus admitted that he is grooming Cobb and Saga for the starting setter role in a bid to claim their third straight crown in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
Cobb could be a perfect fit.
The charming sophomore from St. Scholastica’s College served as Fajardo’s apprentice in her final season where they defeated rival Ateneo de Manila in a thrilling best-of-three finals showdown.
On the same note, the third-year Saga would be converted into a playmaker after assuming the role of a backline defender and service specialist in her first three years with the Lady Spikers.
De Jesus would also be fielding young guns like Desiree Cheng, Aduke Ogunsanya and Tin Tiamzon in the import-flavored Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix starting Oct. 21 to give them more time to develop.
But his attention would be on the UAAP, especially on Cobb and Saga.
“Well, sa ngayon meron kaming dine-develop na dalawang setters – si Cobb at si Saga.”
“Hopefully, kahit man lang 70 percent ng nilalaro ni Kim mai-cover nila. Okay na yun para sa team.”
So far, so good
Although de Jesus is known for developing good defenders like Aby Marano, Michele Gumabao, Melissa Gohing, Shermaine Penano, Maureen Penetrante and Jacqueline Alarca, he also has a knack for developing good setters.
Chie Saet, who is now playing for Cignal in the PSL, will be remembered as the playmaker who served as La Salle’s engine in the past decade while Mika Esperanza assumed the role during their previous championship runs.
Of course, Fajardo should be lined up among those great La Salle playmakers as her lightning-quick decision-making and uncanny ability to read the defense made her a household name both in local and international competitions.
But now that she’s gone, it’s time for de Jesus to name her successor.
“Alam naman natin na crucial na posisyon ang setter.”
“Pero maganda naman ang progress nung dalawa. Sigurado ako na magiging maayos ang performance nila sa UAAP.” – BY John Carlo Villaruel