We really have to give our strongest heart -- Alyssa Valdez

Mark Escarlote on Apr 26, 2016 05:53 PM
We really have to give our strongest heart -- Alyssa Valdez
Siguro we really have to give our strongest heart this time talaga -- Alyssa Valdez
Alyssa Valdez knows what kind of weapon the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles need to bring on Wednesday in their attempt to extend the best-of-three 78th UAAP women’s volleyball Finals series.   

“Siguro we really have to give our strongest heart this time talaga,” said the outgoing Queen Eagle when she and the rest of the three-peat-seeking Lady Eagles face bitter rival De La Salle Lady Spikers in the 4:00 p.m. slated Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Ateneo had its back leaning against the wall after the Lady Eagles dropped a painful 22-25, 22-25, 21-25 loss to the Lady Spikers last Saturday in the series opener.

Third year setter Jia Morado shared the same sentiment.

“(We need) aggressiveness, intensity and happiness inside the court, ‘yun lang talaga. Kasi we function (well) when we are happy,” said the heady playmaker.

Valdez was the only Lady Eagle in double figures in the series opener with 17 points while the rest of her teammates were silenced by the all-out defensive effort shown by the taller DLSU players as they clogged the front of the net.  

Now Ateneo needs to win two games to keep the crown in Katipunan and give Valdez a fitting farewell gift for her five years of service for the blue and white. 

But the 22-year-old hitter accepts the fact that they need to do a better job this time.   

“I think going in to the Finals talaga it’s really hard. Siyempre we have to accept the fact that when a team (opponent) gets Game One siyempre it’s harder to get back,” she said.

Ateneo and DLSU are in their fifth straight Finals duel with both splitting their previous four championship series. The Lady Eagles swept Season 77 but lost their vital cogs on defense in libero Denden Lazaro and Ella De Jesus as well as another hitter in Michelle Morente (academics). Sophomore Maddie Madayag was ruled out of the season after suffering a knee injury in the second round.   

“But then at the start pa lang naman ng UAAP we know na we’re really like the underdogs. We lost so many players also,” Valdez said. “But I think our mind set is that we really have to go back to what we believe in, na we have to believe in our teammates and our coaches and our system and we just have to go back playing happy, united and heart strong.”

For her, turning Ateneo’s campaign around is a challenge Valdez is willing to accept and embrace.

“It’s really a challenge for us how to comeback (after a loss). Ako as a player after five years of being in the finals, (it’s a challenge) how to come back if we lose di ba?” she said. How will I motivate my teammates also? Siguro challenge rin talaga. Sabi ko nga na every year, every championship it’s really a different story.”

“First year nanalo kami ng Game One (before DLSU took the next two games). Second year (ko) swept kami ng La Salle. Third year super unexpected nanalo kami (in a thrice-to-win disadvantage). Nu’ng fourth na-sweep namin and this time iba na naman,” she continued.

Valdez looks at the challenge of keeping their title hopes alive as a plot that could add color to the final chapter of her collegiate career.  

“So it’s really a good story. Siguro it’s gonna be one of the best for me. One of the best chapters of my life but siyempre it’s how you end that chapter,” said Valdez.

“No matter what happens siguro sa lahat ng pinagdaanan ko I’m happy with everything. But you know kahit nandoon ka na kailangan mo pa ring i-push ang sarili mo di ba? Sana magtulung-tulong din kami ng teammates namin, nina coach, ng Atenean community kahit mga ‘di Atenista na nagtsi-cheer di ba? So sana magtulung-tulong at maging one kami this coming Wednesday.”




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