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UAAP volleyball: Jolina dela Cruz embracing challenge of leading young La Salle team


La Salle's Jolina Dela Cruz. UAAP PHOTO

La Salle’s Jolina Dela Cruz. UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time, the La Salle Lady Spikers are competing without a champion player in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Jolina Dela Cruz, a third year spiker, embraces the responsibility of leading the new generation of the Lady Spikers in their bid to reclaim their lost glory without a champion player on their roster after Michelle Cobb, Aduke Ogunsanya and Tin Tiamzon decided to bid farewell in the collegiate ranks.

“We already embraced the challenge of being a senior. The bigger challenge is leading this new generation without our ates or any champion player,” said the outside hitter after scoring nine points in La Salle’s 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20 victory over defending champion Ateneo on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“Even most of us are new players, we should be more composed every game,” she added.

In 2019, La Salle missed the finals after University of Santo Tomas ended the Lady Spikers’ streak.

Dela Cruz and her batchmate setter Marionne Alba are guiding a young Lady Spikers squad composed of second year players Thea Gagate, Baby Jyne Soreño and Justine Jazareno as well as rookie Leiah Malaluan.

The 22-year-old spiker admitted the Lady Spikers felt the jitters in their first game after a two-year pandemic layoff, losing the first set to the Faith Nisperos-led Lady Eagles.

“We had first game jitters. As coach said, the first set is always the hardest. That’s what we have to work as a team this season,” she said.

Dela Cruz was glad that they were able to display their composure to overcome a slow start and get their first UAAP win.

La Salle, which only had one game in Season 82 two years ago, eyes its second win against fellow opening day winner University of the Philippines on Saturday.

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