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Kim is ready for the big leagues

Embracing the challenge, answering the call

By Gio Gloria

De La Salle University

Portrait by Noel Pabalate

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Talk to any athlete that has won a championship and more often than not, they’ll agree with the notion that winning is addicting. Once you’ve tasted victory, you never want to go back to finishing second, third, or even in last place.

As a member of the De La Salle Zobel Women’s Volleyball Team, Kim Kianna Dy savored the feeling of victory after she won three championships in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Junior’s division. After two years of waiting in the wings, she has now emerged as the budding star of the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, who clinched the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Championship after beating the Ateneo Lady Eagles in three thrilling games.

“It’s different,” she says on her first college championship. “Playing for college is entirely different in high school. Now, you don’t know who’s going to [come out on top] because teams are constantly improving themselves.”

It was the perfect ending to Season 78 for Dy, who after seeing her role slowly grow with each passing season finally earned DLSU head coach Ramil De Jesus’ trust in the most crucial moments. The third-year player emerged as this season’s Finals MVP after leading La Salle in scoring in all three finals games, capped off by a 17-point performance in Game 3 that put away the Lady Eagles for good.

Though she initially wanted to pursue track and field, Dy shifted to volleyball in the latter part of grade school after a cancelled meet and through the urging of her friends. She admitted that early on, she wasn’t as dedicated as she could have been with the sport, but mentioned that the feeling of winning multiple titles in high school motivated her to work on her game just to feel that winning sensation over and over again.

“It was really different,” Dy says when asked about the level of play in the high school and college level. “When I started playing for the women’s volleyball team, I didn’t assume that they would let me play the first try. The team is composed of really good players so you have to work hard and prove to them that you can play at the court.”

True enough, all the achievements she earned and the hard work she put in during her high school years did not guarantee success once she moved up to the collegiate level. The Lady Spikers aren’t just perennial title contenders; the talent level in the team is so high that most of the players on the roster can potentially be starters on other UAAP teams as well, a point that Dy acknowledged early on in her career.

“It’s an advantage that you have healthy competition, there’s a certain goal that you need to reach,” she adds.

Another striking difference that Dy realized in college was that things took time. In her first two years with the team, playing time wasn’t regular and to add to that, La Salle could not overcome archrival Ateneo, who ran away with two championships in Season 76 and 77, respectively, at their expense. Yet through all the struggles and the waiting, she had a familiar mentor to count on in De Jesus.

“During the first parts of the season, Coach Ramil won’t let me play. He talked to me and advised me to wait for my right time.” Dy says when asked about her biggest tutor on and off the court. “I was motivated because of that. I have to work harder so that I can play. And outside the court, he becomes a father figure because we stay in a dorm during the season and he makes sure that we eat the right food, we sleep the right amount of time.”

In trusting the process, she earned both her coach’s trust and found the motivation to perform at a high level. Her play as the season progressed validated the reason she was recruited by La Salle: her relentless offense was all the Lady Spikers needed to overcome adversity in its many forms, whether it was a resilient Far Eastern University squad or the vaunted attack of the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Dy and the Lady Spikers went up against the Lady Eagles five times this season, with La Salle taking three of the games in convincing fashion. DLSU’s wins came in four sets or less, while Ateneo De Manila University needed all five sets in their two victories to overcome La Salle. In their triumphs, the Lady Spikers displayed the dominant blocking and trademark hustle that made them the top team in the league across almost all categories. With their performance this season, it wasn’t a surprise for them to remain confident in the face of defeat, something Dy said was the mindset they had in the finals.

“Actually during the Game 1, we were able to sweep them and I felt that were already one step closer to the championship,” she explains. “But we were defeated in Game 2, but I didn’t lose hope. I realized that the two teams are even. May the better team win. It actually became our motivation,” she says.

When looking back at the first time De Jesus gave her ample playing time, which also turned out to be during the first La Salle-Ateneo game in Season 78, Dy remembers the long preparation and the exposure she and the rest of the team got from their Philippine Super Liga stint that coincided with their regular off season preparations. Amid all the hardships and the challenges those brought, she credited those for keeping her ready and motivated once coach Ramil called on her number.

“When Coach put me in, I really played my best because it’s an opportunity to show coach that he could trust me, that I can play well,” she mentions. “So I just played my best and gave my all.”

Balancing the Ball

Even with all the demands that being a Lady Spiker may entail, Kim Dy still manages to find the right balance between attending classes and outwitting her opponents on the court. Here are few tips from the second-term Dean’s Lister that might help you find the right balance between extracurricular and academics.

1. Prioritize

Decide which homework and project to do first. It’s better to do the projects who take up a lot of time. Sometimes this also requires little sacrifices like saying no to your squad’s night out.

2. Have a planner

It’s hard to keep track of all the things you have to do if you’re always busy. Use a planner to map out your schedule for the rest of the day and the rest of the week.

3. Find time

You may think that you don’t have enough time to do this and do that, but actually, you do. Devote your free time to studies and projects that are due days or weeks later. Make necessary adjustments for academic commitments. Start your homework as soon as possible to avoid cramming.