La Salle’s long UAAP finals streak ends: ‘You can’t be at the top all the time’
MANILA, Philippines—After a decade of unparalleled dominance, De La Salle will be on the outside looking in during the championship round of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Lady Spikers have been to the finals for 10 straight years winning seven titles along the way under the tutelage of the legendary Ramil De Jesus but that streak came to a screeching halt in a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, loss to University of Santo Tomas in the Final Four on Sunday.
De Jesus, who owns all of La Salle’s 11 titles, said there will come a time when a team eventually relinquishes its place at the top and no one can stay at the perch for eternity.
“It will happen to someone that when you reach the top it is possible that you will eventually fall down,” said De Jesus in Filipino at Mall of Asia Arena. “You can’t be at the top all the time.”
La Salle has been to the finals in all of De Jesus’ tenure with the exception of Seasons 60, 69, and 70.
Season 69 was De Jesus’ first season with La Salle with the team finishing as the fourth seed while Seasons 69 and 70 were the years the school got problems with its players’ eligibilities for the UAAP.
De Jesus added that one of the biggest problems his team faced in Season 81 was the departure of the Season 80 core that gave the Lady Spikers’ their third three-peat.
“There are players who leave every year and my point is a team gets weaker with that but there are also athletes who are willing to step up,” said De Jesus. “I think this time, our team got formed later than I would like because of the injuries and instead of starting in September, we started in January.”
La Salle’s core during the Season 80 championship of Season 79 MVP Mary Joy Baron, Season 78 Finals MVP Kianna Dy, and Season 80 Finals MVP Dawn Macandili all graduated from the team leaving the Lady Spikers in some sort of a rebuilding year.
Left over from Season 80 were Season 79 Finals MVP Desiree Cheng, May Luna, Michelle Cobb, Tin Tiamzon, and Carmel Saga.
“Getting that championship is hard enough in itself and getting that four-peat is even harder,” said De Jesus, who led La Salle to its first three-peat from Season 66 to 68 and the second one from Season 73 until 75.
“If you change one or two from that core, then it becomes harder to win another championship.”
The departure of La Salle’s players, however, wasn’t just the sole reason the Lady Spikers failed to defend their crown as De Jesus also had to juggle two immensely successful programs in 2019.
De Jesus not only coached La Salle during the year, he also called the shots for three-time Philippine Super Liga champion F2 Logistics.
“That was the hardest I went through this year because I barely got any sleep, you have to prepare both teams, and it was every other day that the one of my teams are scheduled to play,” said De Jesus whose Cargo Movers lost to Petron in three games in the PSL Grand Prix finals. “I’m playing for almost the entire week.”
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