MANILA, Philippines—Jolina Dela Cruz has been the all-around driving force that the La Salle Lady Spikers needed to push them back firmly into title contention status following stunning back-to-back sweeps of defending UAAP women’s volleyball champion National University.
As the stock of super rookie Angel Canino continues to grow, the veteran Dela Cruz was always just behind the spotlight, providing ample support in every single category whether on attacks, blocks, services, or floor defense.
In La Salle’s first round sweep of the Lady Bulldogs last Wednesday, the fourth-year spiker tallied 11 points and 10 excellent digs.
Dela Cruz then proved her consistency to returning mentor Ramil de Jesus in the immediate rematch to kick off the second round on Saturday, chipping in 12 points with three blocks to go with nine excellent receptions.
For her consistent production coupled with her leadership, Dela Cruz earned the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week from March 22 to 25.
Dela Cruz emerged as the unanimous choice over previous winners Canino and Adamson’s Trisha Tubu, La Salle’s Mars Alba, Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos, and FEU’s Jov Fernandez.
Dela Cruz is also the first non-rookie this season to win the weekly citation.
“It boosts the confidence of each one of us. As coach Ramil said, it’s rare to get a chance to sweep the first round and win eight straight games,” Dela Cruz said in Filipino
“We grabbed the opportunity to further boost our confidence.”
It was an emotional stretch overall for a La Salle community already on cloud nine following the Lady Spikers’ winning streak, culminating with a return for De Jesus who has not taken the court since the Season 84 finals due to personal reasons.
“We didn’t expect that he will coach us because when he arrived at the dugout he was joking that he will be just watching behind our bench,” Dela Cruz said. “But we convinced him and we’re thankful to coach Ramil because he fought with us and we dedicated this win to him.”
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