La Salle’s Season 78 champion core will be put to another level of test when the 2016 Philippine SuperLiga All-Filipino Conference raises its curtains Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
After successfully bringing back the UAAP crown to Taft, Ramil de Jesus and some of his past and current Lady Spikers will be joining forces anew to test their mettle against some of the strongest club teams in the local scene.
While the formula of putting together the old and new sets of La Salle stars together has been tried in the Grand Prix back in 2015, the forthcoming tournament, according to setter Kim Fajardo, will be a lot different.
“This conference ay iba kasi, for me, kakatapos lang ng UAAP and maayos ‘yung result nun. Since kami-kami din ‘yung magkakasama at nadagdagan pa ng mga seniors namin, meron kaming dapat i-prove,” Fajardo told FOX Sports.
“Pero siyempre hindi naman namin ‘yun dapat isipin. Kailangan lang may goal kami and dapat isa ‘yun,” she added.
In their SuperLiga campaign late last year, Fajardo, along with teammates Mika Reyes, Kim Dy, Cha Cruz and Dawn Macandili got outclassed as the team failed to create connection with imports Christina Alessi and Liis Kullerkann.
The locals-only tourney, however, will be a whole new avenue for the volleyball superstars who have made La Salle the most successful collegiate team in the last decade.
Fajarado, UAAP’s reigning best setter, will be taking on a challenge too as an individual as she goes up against some of the best playmakers in the country today.
On holding her own against the likes of Tina Salak, Rubie de Leon and Rhea Dimaculangan among others, she shares: “Never naman po pumasok sa isip kong makikipag-kumpitensya sa mga setters sa liga po. Basta ako, kung ano ‘yung trabaho ko, gagawin ko for my team.”
Rather than trying to outshine her seniors, Fajardo prefers to learn and soak in the experience of playing against the best of the best.
“Alam ko din na madami akong matututunan sa league na ‘to sa mga setters ng iba ibang team lalo na sa mga veteran na setters sa PSL kasi ibang level dito eh,” said the Batangas native. “Gusto ko pang matuto and alam kong may matututunan pa ako pag nakita ko sila maglaro ulit.”
Aside from the high-octane action, another thing that sets the SuperLiga apart is the unique uniform wherein the athletes gets to move more freely in ‘skorts,’ a combination of skirts and shorts.
Fajardo admits this will be totally out of her comfort zone but takes a step back by saying she will eventually get used to her new fighting gear.
“Keri lang naman para maiba,” she quipped.
“Maninibago ako sa una pero mawawala din naman kasi maglalaro kami. Nakaka-excite lang lahat,” closed the 2-time UAAP champion. — By Mac Dionisio