UAAP Volleyball

Next women up: Super sophomores De Leon, Canino, Laput lead La Salle title defense

JR Isaga

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Next women up: Super sophomores De Leon, Canino, Laput lead La Salle title defense

ANOTHER GEM. La Salle libero Lyka de Leon keeps a defensive stance in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

UAAP Season 86 Media Team

La Salle's standout sophomore batch yields another gem as libero Lyka de Leon steps up alongside established Lady Spikers stars Angel Canino and Shevana Laput

MANILA, Philippines – Continuity is one of the hallmarks of a true sports dynasty, and the La Salle Lady Spikers are well on their way to building a new empire in UAAP women’s volleyball.

Already led by the likes of reigning MVP Angel Canino and fellow star sophomore Shevana Laput, the undisputed top team to beat in Season 86 may have found yet another gem quietly manning the back lines in second-year libero Lyka de Leon.

In La Salle’s second straight sweep, this time a 25-20, 25-17, 25-22 win against the FEU Lady Tamaraws, De Leon stood out with a hyper-efficient line of 16 excellent digs on just 29 attempts to go with 12 excellent receptions on just 21 attempts.

This, along with 13 and 10 points from Canino and Laput, respectively, were enough to push the Lady Spikers up a 2-0 record with no sets dropped so far, but every member understood that no one can afford to be complacent this early in the season.

“Good thing I’m building my confidence and character now, but overall, I’m not yet super satisfied with how I performed today. I still have a lot of lapses,” De Leon said in Filipino. “As a team, we’re not satisfied with winning two games. We have bigger goals than this.”

“I found my performance lacking. Everyone did in the team. We need to double our efforts in training because we really have a lot of lapses still, lots of errors that we can avoid in the court,” Canino added.

Prior to Season 86, questions naturally popped up regarding La Salle’s roster strength after losing Jolina dela Cruz and Mars Alba to graduation, and Fifi Sharma and Justine Jazareno to sudden commitments to the PVL.

Doubts, however, were quickly dashed as the likes of De Leon, middle blocker Amie Provido, and new captain setter Julia Coronel stepped up in their seniors’ stead, giving the Lady Spikers more or less another complete rotation in their first title defense bid in six years.

“With the sudden departure ni Ate [Justine], it’s like out of the blue, I was forced to step up,” De Leon continued. “At first, I really struggled, but I was guided well by my coaches and was supported by my teammates, telling me I can do it.

“Slowly but surely, I’ll get there.” –

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