UAAP Womens Volleyball Preview: De La Salle Lady Spikers
Defending champions De La Salle University could be playing in its toughest season yet this year since 2010.
Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo and Carol Cerveza already played their last UAAP games and won three UAAP titles, making La Salle’s lineup vulnerable for the first time in the last five years.
The defending champions, however, will remain a contender since multi-awarded setter Kim Fajardo decided to play her fifth and final UAAP season.
Another veteran in Des Cheng will also make her comeback after missing the UAAP last season due to a knee injury.
Fajardo and Cheng will likely form the Starting Six alongside reigning UAAP Finals MVP Kim Dy, reigning Best Blocker Majoy Baron and reigning Philippine Super Liga (PSL) MVP and UAAP’s Best Digger and Receiver Dawn Macandili.
Fajardo, Dy, Baron and Macandili all suited up for club team F2 Logistics in the semi-pro league Super Liga where they helped F2 bag the All-Filipino Conference title against the powerhouse Foton Tornadoes.
But the UAAP would be a different ball game since Fajardo, Dy, Baron and Macandili won’t have the leadership of Cha Cruz and Aby Maraño which they had playing for F2 in Super Liga.
La Salle’s off-the-bench players Tin Tiamzon and May Luna had flashes of brilliance in the off season, but we don’t see them ably filling in the explosiveness of Dy and Baron come winning time.
Blocking has always been a vaunted La Salle weapon, but it remains to be seen if seldom used middle blocker Christine Aduke will be as effective and has the swagger of Mika Reyes (Just ask the Ateneo fans).
Still, La Salle will have a handful of rookies in Arriane Layug, UST High School’s Gyra Barroga and setter Michelle Cobb who should be able to pull pleasant surprises because player rotation is what Coach Ramil de Jesus does best.
La Salle has been in seven straight UAAP Finals appearances and has always been intimidating their rivals with clockwork precision, but we just don’t see them that intimidating enough for a title repeat sans their famed solid blocking. (Alex Cerado)
2016 UAAP Finish: Champion
Fastbreak’s prediction for 2017: 4th place