Desiree Cheng steps up for La Salle in comeback year
MANILA, Philippines - When you look back at the De La Salle University Lady Spikers’ fruitful UAAP volleyball campaigns in the past seasons, you’d be able to come up with a list of players who have been known for their on-court swag and showy celebrations. This year was no exception, with Desiree Cheng’s antics becoming yet another subject for the the viewers to feast on.
But as Game 1 of the best-of-3 finals came to a close, a cheerful Cheng exited the dugout with pressure lifted off her shoulders as she basked in the sweet victory for a moment.
“Masaya, masaya kami,” the outside hitter told Rappler. “Hindi naman mawawala ‘yung pressure, [pero] mas natatakpan ng excitement kesa ‘yung pinapadama namin ‘yung pressure.”
(We’re really happy. The pressure will always be there, but the excitement will just overshadow it.)
Asked how the team managed to get a head start against rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles, Cheng said that the Lady Spikers focused more on getting better and tried to learn from their past mistakes in the preliminaries.
“Pinanood lang namin ‘yung games namin versus them [Ateneo] in the elims, tiningnan talaga namin isa-isa. Inisa-isa namin kung ano ‘yung mga kulang, ‘yung mga points na kailangan namin i-improve. So siguro, ‘yun ‘yung factor kung bakit kami nanalo.”
(We just watched the tapes of our elimination games against them. We pointed out our areas for improvement, so perhaps that was a factor for our victory.)
With Saturday’s crucial match fast approaching, the former Palarong Pambansa MVP shared that she made it a personal habit to mute all social media accounts as part of her individual preparation before game day.
“Personally, ‘pag malapit na ‘yung game, nagtu-turn off talaga ako ng social media. Kasi sobrang nadala na ko sa social media before. ‘Yung social media, wala talaga.”
(I personally turn off social media when the game is near, because I got carried away before. So no social media for me.)
As she brings back La Salle’s swag in the collegiate league, Cheng only hopes to let her game speak for herself as a message to the doubters.
The comebacking spiker has become one of the offensive options for the Lady Spikers this year, as she wound up in the top 20 scorers after the eliminations with a total of 103 points.
She has also become one of La Salle’s anchors in floor defense after finishing as the second Best Receiver (43.72%), an award which was meanwhile given out to her teammate and libero Dawn Macandili.
In the midst of rigorous training and constant criticism, Cheng draws inspiration from her friends and teammates as well as her loved ones. During the action-packed first game of the finals, the 3rd year hitter was motivated as ever, knowing that her father was beaming from the sidelines and cheering on his daughter.
“Naghahanap lang ako ng motivation sa mga teammates ko, sa coaches ko, sa family ko,” shared Cheng, who missed last season’s action due to an ACL injury. “Especially na umuwi si daddy for this game talaga. Galing siyang Taiwan, doon siya nagwo-work and sobrang tagal na naming hindi nagkita.”
(I just find the motivation from my teammates, my coaches and my family - especially since my dad went home for this game. He flew in from Taiwan, where he works, and we haven’t seen each other in a while.)
For now, Cheng and the Lady Spikers remain focused on the task at hand as they know Ateneo will go all out to level the series on Saturday. The Taft crew braces for another grueling battle, but ultimately hopes to snatch the prize as soon as possible.
“Sure naman na mahihirapan kami,” said Cheng of the Saturday’s match picture. “Wala namang madaling kalaban, and finals na, feeling ko walang madaling laban.”
(For sure, we have a tough challenge ahead. There’s no easy opponent, and since it’s the finals, I feel like every game will be challenging.)
Can the Lady Spikers finish it off in Game 2 and secure the back-to-back?
“Pipilitin namin na kunin siyempre,” noted Cheng with a smile. “Mahihirapan, pero kakayanin.”
(We’ll try to get it [on Saturday]. It won’t be easy, but we will try.) －Rappler.com