The emergence of Dawn Macandili as a steady libero for La Salle has ended the dark days for the Lady Spikers’ faulty defense which lasted through Seasons 76 and 77 — the same time they lost the title back-to-back to arch rival Ateneo.
While Cienne Cruz was not too shabby for a defensive ace, her performance was found lacking especially in comparison to former Rookie of the Year Melissa Gohing, who ended her career back in Season 75.
“Hindi naman problema. Konting difference lang kasi si Cienne (Cruz) naman okay naman ang pasa,” said La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus on his team’s woes from 2014-15. “Kaya lang hindi lang talaga ready ang team nung dumating ang time na nagharap kami ng Ateneo. Marami pang kulang na dapat pang i-workout.”
After the 1st round, the Taft squad ran away in the stat sheet as the best digging and receiving team in the league and most of the development should be credited to Macandili’s energy inside the court, which has translated to good 1st balls for setter Kim Fajardo.
For the multi-titled La Salle mentor, this is the result of the 3rd year player’s determination to continuously hone her craft despite the many roadblocks.
“Epekto na din ng hard work ‘yan. Masipag kasi talaga ‘yung bata,” shared the proud coach. “Very coachable ‘yan. Kagalitan mo o hindi mo kagalitan, masipag talaga siya. Makikita mo ‘yan laging nago-overload.”
“Since nung nagkaroon ng playing time, nagka-kumpyansa sa sarili. Tumaas ‘yung confidence. Hindi na niya binitawan ‘yung posisyon niya,” he added.
The good passing of La Salle has since become its bread and butter in its 2016 campaign, allowing Fajardo to create plays that were hard for the opposing blockers to read.
But for De Jesus, what makes Macandili standout is the way the diminutive volleybelle handles her self and her teammates inside the court.
“Malaking bagay ‘yung pagtaas ng laro niya this year,” admitted the coach. “Unang-una, ‘yung leadership mararamdaman mo sa loob ng court unlike si Cienne tahimik though nandun ‘yung tulong sa team. Hindi mo lang maramadaman kasi tahimik.”
Asked if Macandili can now fully embrace the role without the need of being subbed out—which was how former La Salle star played for 5 years—the coach veered away from looking too far ahead.
“Depende kasi may mga times na off ang players kaya pasundot-sundot ‘yung isa. Pero so far, solid ang kilos niya para sa amin,” he closed. — By Mac Dionisio