Next Jen Reyes? Rising Gayle Valdez is NU’s unsung hero

When news that Bia General could be out for the rest of the season, NU’s chances of advancing to the Final Four looked bleak.

But as the Lady Bulldogs posted back-to-back wins, they have to thank Gayle Valdez, the second libero who has taken over floor defending duties while General is in sick bay.

Against UST on Sunday, she proved her worth anew, posting 21 digs and 20 excellent receptions as NU scored a 5-set triumph.

Read: Roger Gorayeb rues NU errors in close win over UST

Valdez said she dedicates her stellar performances to General.

“Para sa kanya talaga yung ginagawa ko. Kailangan talaga may mag-step up. At kailangan ko punan yung pagkawala niya,” Valdez told FOX Sports. “Siyempre para kay ate Bia po yun. Nag-step up ako hindi para sa akin, para sa team at para kay ate Bia.”

After showcasing her talents in the past two matches, Valdez has drawn comparisons to former NU star libero Jen Reyes.

But even as she has shown she belongs in the UAAP, the defensive specialist believes she still has a lot to improve on, especially with the other Lady Bulldogs also struggling to man the floor.

“Nahihirapan ako. Pero kailangan ko talaga gawin ito. Kasi responsibility ko na kunin talaga lahat ng bola,” she said. “Kaso kulang pa po talaga. Kailangan i-push ko pa sarili ko. Marami pa akong mga errors. Kailangan pa matuto. Lagi namin iniisip na championship lahat ng game kasi crucial talaga lahat.”

Read: Kung Fu Reyes says UST to go all-out to keep Eya Laure in Espana

Facing La Salle on their last game in the elimination round, Valdez will have to take on the challenge of the strong-serving Taft squad in order for NU to have a chance to get in to the Final Four.

“Sa receive po talaga yung weakness ko dati pa,” she said. “Na-pressure talaga ako. Pero chinallenge ko nalang po sarili ko na kaya ko ito kasi kailangan ako ng team namin. Tiwala naman ako na kaya ko.”

“Gusto ko talaga manalo kami kasi nga nasa hukay na yung isang paa namin. Gusto ko patunayan sa coaches na kayang kaya namin.” — By Arylle Magtalas

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