The match was heating up and University of Santo Tomas star Sisi Rondina was starting to take over, turning their opening-day battle in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament against reigning De La Salle University into her own show with an array of fearless attacks and heart-stopping defensive stops.
Finally, La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus called on a familiar name to restore order.
He tapped Majoy Baron.
And the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player made sure to deliver.
“She’s already a veteran who knows her responsibilities inside the court.”
“As team captain, she displayed her leadership, especially by setting good example to her younger teammates.”
With her heroics, the UAAP Press Corps chose Baron as its first UAAP Player of the Week for this season, beating the likes of Jaja Santiago of National University (NU), Diana Carlos of University of the Philippines (UP) and Toni Rose Basas of Far Eastern University (FEU).
Compared to last year, this La Salle squad is a work in progress.
Kim Fajardo, the engine that propelled them to back-to-back crowns, had already graduated and will now set the table for F2 Logistics in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix starting Feb. 17.
La Salle, instead, has to bank on the wizardry of young setter Michelle Cobb as well as seasoned veterans Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili and Desiree Cheng.
But against the dangerous UST squad, La Salle was pushed to the limit.
The Lady Spikers were walking wounded as Dy, one of the tournament’s best opposite spikers, is nursing an injured knee, prompting de Jesus to call on Baron to bail them out of trouble.
And as the Lady Spikers crumbled in the fourth set, Baron asserted her dominance, stepping up big-time to eke out a hard-earned victory.
“We had so many adjustments before the game because Kianna is nursing an injury.”
“So Majoy’s great performance was really a major boost for us in this match.”
Despite an impressive performance, Baron deflected the credit, saying that they remain a work in progress and still have a room for improvement.
After all, this is just the first game and they have yet to face other heavyweights like rival Ateneo de Manila University, FEU and NU.
“We still have a lot to work on.”
“It’s great that this match went to five sets. At least it tested our limit and our character as a team. We still have a lot to improve.”
Baron and the Lady Spikers will go for their second win when they clash with UP on Saturday when the league rolls to Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.