MANILA – The De La Salle Lady Spikers were as surprised as the rest of the volleyball community when the multi-titled coach Ramil de Jesus walked inside the Philsports Arena on Saturday.
De Jesus missed the entire first round of UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament but the Lady Spikers, under the tutelage of Noel Orcullo, still managed to remain unbeaten.
They made it 8-0 earlier as they once again swept the defending champions NU Lady Bulldogs – but this time with added motivation as De Jesus took the helm.
“Siguro mas ginanahan din yung team. Same din naman yung respect namin with coach Noel and coach Ramil. Siguro mas na-excite kami kasi bagong dating lang din ngayong second round si coach Ramil. Mas na-boost yung kumpiyansa ng mga teammates ko,” Jolina dela Cruz told the press.
According to rookie Angel Canino, who had 15 points in the match, they dedicated the win to De Jesus, the architect of La Salle's women's volleyball program.
“Sobrang malaking bagay, malaking impact siya sa team especially na sa akin dahil ako po ay first nakasama ko siya sa loob and nakakagaan lang kasi nakikita na namin siya sa loob ng court dati sinusuportahan lang niya po kami pero ngayon inilaban na niya kami, and inilaban din po namin para sa kaniya,” Canino said.
Dela Cruz admitted that they did not know De Jesus would be coming into the game. But when they saw him, they convinced him to take the coaching position already.
“Nung nasa dugout siya kasama pa namin siya binibiro biro niya kami na hindi naman doon lang kami sa likod. Pero pinilit namin siya…Napilit naman namin siya. Thankful kami kay coach Ramil kasi yun nga yung sabi ni Angel nilaban niya yung araw na to and para sa kanya din yung laban namin,” the Lady Spiker leader said.
Unlike their first round matchup, NU gave La Salle a threat in the first two sets as they forced extensions, only to falter in Canino’s services.
In the end, the Lady Bulldogs slid to the third spot with a 5-3 card, tied with the UST Golden Tigresses and behind the Adamson Lady Falcons (6-2).
De Jesus last coached the Lady Spikers in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 84 finals against the Lady Bulldogs in June 2022. NU swept De Jesus and company back then en route to a perfect 16-0 title run.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.