La Salle is now a target, holding the crown in hand

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Noel Orcullo. UAAP PHOTO

La Salle knows that all the schools will be trying to hunt down the defending champions.

And the Lady Spikers made that as their motivation in their preparations leading to this year’s Season 86, knowing fully well that they will have to play with the same consistency if they want to get to the same result.

“We always tell them (Lady Spikers) that we shouldn’t be contented that we were the champions before. That is all over,” La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo said during the league press conference at Mall of Asia Arena on Monday. “We have to face the new season so we have to prepare double time because we are the defending champions.

“All the teams are after us. It’ll be harder to defend the championship than chasing the champion.”

La Salle dominated the field in last season’s eliminations, losing only to University of Santo Tomas, before winning its semifinal series against the Golden Tigresses and dethroning Season 84 queens National University.

Still competitive

That vaunted La Salle lineup was composed of setter and team captain Mars Alba and Jolina dela Cruz, who took their act to the Premier Volleyball League after graduating, as well as Fifi Sharma and Justine Jazareno, who both forfeited their playing years to turn pro.

But even with those huge losses, La Salle believes that it has enough to remain competitive with Rookie of the Year-Most Valuable Player Angel Canino, two-time best middle blocker Thea Gagate and Shevana Laput still leading the Lady Spikers.

“We are just thinking that we can do it because this is our time,” said Gagate. “Ate Mars’ and the others’ stints are over, it is now Julia [Coronel] and I’s time to lead the team … we just remind the younger batch that we, seniors, are here for them.”

Gagate, who admits to still having preseason jitters despite being one of the seniors for La Salle, knows that they would have to show everything they worked for once the league kicks off on Saturday. INQ


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