By Mark Edward Lopez
In an exciting and tough tournament like the UAAP, it is only fitting to see players coping to pressure, losses and challenges.
As a Lady Spiker, there is only one way they have coped up with these through the years: their Swag.
From the intimidating “pamewang” of Michele Datuin to the beast-mode-dont-care attitude of Aby Maraño to the demoralizing stare down of Michele Gumabao, the ten-time UAAP champions has patented this style of play that the fans love… and the not-so-fans hate.
With the departure of their former swag queens, it is no surprise that a protege would adapt their level of play that is the trademark swag: Desiree Cheng.
The 21-year old open hitter has been in hot waters lately. Baby-faced, soft-spoken and charming, it is hard to imagine that Cheng would be the one to continue the swag tradition of the Taft-based squad.
Cheng, a reigning Finals MVP, has a knack of celebrating a point that either fascinates DLSU supporters or exasperates the fans of the other squads.
She smiles mischievously at her opponents whenever she scores off a kill. She run around with her fingers poised like a gun “bang, bang, bang” after winning a long rally. She struts back to the service area after yet another ace.
Is Cheng’s swag nice or nasty, though?
Taunting at the net is not a fresh, new thing in volleyball. This style of play has been proven effective in boosting the morale of the team, shaking off the pressure of the game, and challenging the composure of the opposing squad.
After all, volleyball is not just a physical game. It is also a psychological war.
The arena fills with boos, social media buzzes with hate comments and foreheads frowns in annoyance whenever Cheng shows yet again one of her antics.
Some might say that her style of playing is rude and mean. Others decide that she was downright arrogant. Most insist that there is no need for her to show some swag.
Cheng remains unbothered, though.
“Everybody knows that boos are part of the game, so that’s fine with me and I’m used to it,” Cheng said in one of her interviews.
Just like how she recovered from an ACL injury she incurred two years ago, Cheng shuts down all the noise of negativities and convert them into positive energy.
She said: “I think I’m challenged more than ever whenever opposing fans boo me, and it just pumps me up even more.”
Her swag is neither nasty nor nice. Like it or not, Cheng will continue celebrating a point – Lady Spiker style.