LA Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus left the dugout with a heavy heart after a five-set loss to University of Santo Tomas kept the Lady Spikers out of the UAAP women's volleyball finals for the first time in a decade.
The veteran coach, though, was quick to accept that all good things come to an end.
“Ganun talaga. Dumadating naman sa isang tao o sa isang team yung pag na-reach mo yung dulo, possible kang bumagsak,” said the 11-time champion coach. “Hindi naman lahat ng panahon andoon ka sa taas.”
The longest-tenured coach in the league has pulled off a hat-trick of championships thrice in his 21-year La Salle career, but a four-peat remained elusive.
De Jesus said the nature of college volleyball, where players come and go, make a four-peat tough to achieve.
“Yung mag-champion ka lang mahirap na pero yung mag-four-peat medyo talagang (mahirap na yun),” De Jesus said. “Kailangan kasi hindi nababawasan yung team mo eh, every year nawawala yung core ng team mo.
"Para makapag ‘four-peat’ ka siguro, kailangan umpisahan mo na rookie year nila para hanggang sa matapos sila nagcha-champion sila.”
After losing the core of Majoy Baron, Kianna Dy and Dawn Macandili from last season's champion team, De Jesus was very vocal in saying that La Salle will have a hard time defending its title because the K-12 program has disrupted the flow of new blood in the program.
“Itong Season 81, nasabi ko na to noon pa sa team owners, sa managers, sa admin ng La Salle na hirap tayo dahil sa K-12, dahil hindi namin napaghandaan yun,” he said.
“Kasi every year, may nawawalang players. Ang point ko kasi, every year humihina yung team pero merong players na willing mag-step up. This time siguro medyo late na rin kasi nabuo yung team namin kasi karamihan ng mga players ko galing sa injuries so yung timetable ko late.”
"Usually, dapat September mag-start na kami magbuo ng team so dahil sa mga injuries ng players ko nabuo kami January," he added. "Dumadating sa point na parang di magkakakilala tapos hindi ganun ka-fluid yung galaw."
The Lady Spikers will lose two seniors in team captain Desiree Cheng and one-and-done player Lourdes Clemente, but begins Season 82 begins with newcomers bannered by 6-foot-3 incoming rookie Thea Gagate.
De Jesus said he hopes this loss will serve as a learning experience for the team.
“Hopefully makita nila yung reason para hindi sila panghinaan ng loob. Makita nila na kailangan pa nila mag-extra effort para mas maiangat pa at maiahon yung team sa susunod pa na UAAP seasons,” De Jesus said.