Cha Cruz’s killer smile has captivated not a few volleyball enthusiasts and non-fans alike.
But beneath this lovely façade lies a competitor who basks in the glory of proving her opponents and doubters wrong.
“That is a special moment,” Cruz told UAAPSports.TV. “When there are a lot of fans who boo you to death and you prove them wrong. It’s like shouting, ‘in your face.’”
Now in her fifth season as a spiker for De La Salle University, the comely MA Special Education student has actually nothing left to establish with regards to her illustrious career.
Cruz, however, believes that there is still one mission left to be accomplished: win a second straight championship for the Lady Spikers.
“I wanna finish stronger,” she said. “Ayoko umalis sa team na heartbroken kami. Gusto namin na sobrang victorious.”
And with a cast that is only one win away from bagging the championship, it is not farfetched to believe that Cruz will be at the forefront of things when the squad brings the crown home to Taft for the third time in four years.
“Of course, goal namin mag-champion,” Cruz stressed. “And if we just set ourselves in line with our goal, I believe that everything will fall into place.”
The 23-year-old added that it’s “puso” that has been carrying the fight for the Lady Spikers to greater heights plus the fact that they are a bunch of women who hate the thought of losing.
“That is why we train every day, minsan nga twice a day pa,” she said. “Ayaw naming magpatalo.”
As a captain, Cruz shares that she pushes her teammates to maximize their potential and that seeing them live up to their billing gives her a sense of fulfillment, as she is able to do her job as skipper of arguably the country’s strongest collegiate volleyball team.
“I should bring the best out of them,” Cruz said, also noting that she wants her teammates to flaunt that killer instinct she shows during games.
“It’s the perfect way of putting ourselves to the test,” she quipped. “It’s what we’ve been training for. We want to be the best players under the worst conditions, with all the external factors against us.”
It is no secret that this is Cruz’s last season donning the Green and White, and with it comes the pressure of leaving her UAAP career on a high note and the agony of saying goodbye to a lifestyle she’s had over the past five years.
“It’s a blessing. You only get an opportunity like this once in a lifetime,” Cruz, who took up volleyball in Grade Six but only went back to it when she was a high school senior, added. “I’m so grateful because a lot of people believe in and appreciate what we do.”
With her bidding college volleyball adieu next season, Cruz thinks that everyone on her team can step up and take charge as they vie for yet another crown.
“Laging sinasabi ni coach na lahat kami kelangan matutong mag-lead for ourselves, for our teammates,” she said, citing that the training they receive from Coach Ramil de Jesus doesn’t just hone them skill-wise but gives them the chance to develop their personalities off-court. “I learned how to respect and understand my teammates and other people, too.”
That became obvious when the Lady Spikers regrouped and bounced back after a stunning loss in Game 1, with Cruz being the heart and soul of La Salle’s attack.
On Wednesday, we might be seeing the last of Miss Everything wearing the Green and White. But Cha Cruz’s name will forever be etched in UAAP annals as one Lady Spiker who poured her heart out and showed the ‘animo’ spirit day in and day out.