UAAP Season 81 was unfruitful for the DLSU Lady Spikers, whose quest for a fourth straight championship ended at the hands of Sisi Rondina and UST.
Coming in with a roster filled with mostly first-timers, Coach Ramil De Jesus, Des Cheng, and the rest of La Salle had growing pains all throughout the elimination round that UST was able to take advantage of in the Final Four.
Mika Reyes, currently a PSL champion with Petron and a former 3-time champion with DLSU in the UAAP, believes the pressure of winning a fourth straight title was also a difficult task to overcome for the relatively young squad.
“Siguro nahirapan lang din talaga i-maintain and pressured talaga yung mga bata.”
Reyes, who earned the nickname “The Taft Tower” during her collegiate years, also stressed that the high intensity and focus UST played with allowed them to dethrone De La Salle in two straight games.
UST also beat DLSU in one of their elimination round matchups.
“I think talagang makikita mo na gustong-gusto nila manalo,” said Reyes.
“Nakikita mo talaga na gustong-gusto nila makakuha nang point and every point counts talaga for them.
“[They make sure] nakakabawi sila every mistake, every error. Nakikita mo sa eyes nila. Grabe din yung power na binibigay ni Sisi sa mga teammates niya. Even Eya Laure, nag-contribute siya ng malaki sa team.”
Reyes, however, also sees positives from DLSU’s Season 81 performance. She commended Cheng, the team captain, for returning in her final season and also sees promise in La Salle rookie Jolina Dela Cruz.
“For Des Cheng, I’m very happy for her kasi nag stay pa talaga siya to play for La Salle and alam ko kung gaano kalaki yung challenge nabinigay sakanya,” said Reyes.
“Mahirap talaga maging captain sa ganitong kind of bago, yung mga players, and then yung pressure pa nag mag 4-peat.”
Dela Cruz, meanwhile, resembles former DLSU great Ara Galang, according to Reyes.
“Feeling ko parang nagiging Ara Galang siya, yung dating niya, yung vibe niya,” she said.
“I’m sure naman for the next few years gagawa siya ng sarili niyang name and makikilala siya as Jolina Dela Cruz.”
As for next season, Reyes believes DLSU will bounce back strong in the mission to reclaim their title.
“Yes talaga na babawi sila. Ang laki ng tiwala ko sa La Salle team and especially kay Coach Ramil. Sobrang laki ng tiwala ko sakanya.
“Ibigay muna nila ang time nito para mag rest, mag start ulit… I’m sure talaga na babawi sila.”