Alleiah taking it nice and easy

‘I consider it as my first game and at the same time I’m just getting back on track.’

La Salle winger Alleiah Malaluan (No. 6) sees action for the first time after being sidelined due to a minor knee injury. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UAAP

Alleiah Malaluan relished the opportunity to finally see action for De La Salle University after riding the bench resting a minor knee injury in the team’s first four outings in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.

Although coming in as a substitute midway through the second set against Far Eastern University, the opposite spiker was just grateful for the opportunity to get her feet wet.

“I consider it as my first game and at the same time I’m just getting back on track,” Malaluan said following the Lady Spikers’ 25-16, 25-18, 25-21 sweep of the Lady Tamaraws for a perfect 5-0 win-loss record yesterday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

“I’m still adjusting inside the court since everything feels new to me. Even though I’m training I need to adjust to the movement inside the court.”

Malaluan aggravated a lingering knee injury during the Lady Spikers’ final prep up for the season. Interim coach Noel Orcullo had to keep the 5-foot-11 spiker on the sidelines as a precaution.

The 20-year-old winger was inserted as a reliever for Jolina dela Cruz in the second set with La Salle holding a 12-7 advantage.

“Actually, I planned on fielding her last game (against UE) but I thought I should just slow it down. Then yesterday during training I told her ‘O Leiah be ready I might play you tomorrow,’” Orcullo said.

“We don’t want to rush her. What we want is to slowly regain her confidence and get back to her usual form,” Orcullo added about Malaluan, who was in the top five in scoring last year after averaging 13.7 points per game with 30.32 percent spiking efficiency.

The sophomore played throughout the second set and pounded her lone point off an off the block kill that ended the frame.

She was benched in the third frame.

Despite showing glimpses of her old form, Malaluan admitted that she still has a long way to go to full recovery.

“I can’t say any numbers but I’m still getting there. Even though let’s say I can do certain skills but at the same time it’s still different from when I’m at 100 percent. I know it is not my 100 percent,” she said.

La Salle will be closing the first round with two tough matches against Adamson University and a finals rematch with defending champion National University.

With a weeklong rest before facing the Lady Falcons, the Lady Spikers are hoping to see an in-form Malaluan to finish the round with an unblemished slate.

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