JOLINA de la Cruz made her mark as the top point producer for La Salle in her rookie year, and now embraces a bigger role as the Lady Spikers seek redemption in UAAP Season 82.
Now the focal point of the La Salle offense with the shift to outside hitter, De la Cruz believes the Lady Spikers have what it takes to contend for the title again after falling short last season. La Salle bowed out at the semifinal stage in Season 81, ending their three-year reign and 10 straight finals appearances.
“Babalik ang character na kilala nilang La Salle. Expect na lang talaga nila na babalik po talaga kami,” said the sophomore Lady Spiker.
“Siguro mas tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin ngayon kasi may gusto kaming patunayan eh. Yung sa nangyari last year, yun ang naging motivation namin para mas umangat pa po ang team namin and mas lalo pang sumunod sa sistema ni coach,” she said.
De la Cruz had a solid rookie season as opposite spiker, leading La Salle in scoring with 11.5 points per game and 27.78 attack rate, numbers expected to rise after the switch.
“Siyempre sobrang laking adjustment nun kasi parang dito sa opposite sobrang sanay na ako and dito ako na-peak pa eh. So yun parang it’s a bigger role po yung ibinigay sa akin ni coach Ramil (de Jesus) sa akin,” Dela Cruz said.
“Nothing to lose naman po talaga ako eh. Yung performance ko last year mas dadagdagan ko na lang po talaga ngayon kasi may hinahabol po talaga kami,” she added.
Also part of her new role is helping nine rookies, led by 6-footers Thea Gagate and Leila Cruz, adjust to women’s play.
“From last year makikita mo talaga na mas matangkad talaga kami ngayon. Mas established pa,” she said.