Down to possibly her last couple of games in the UAAP, Ateneo superstar Alyssa Valdez believes the key to ending her collegiate career is to be happy.
Valdez and the Lady Eagles go for a third straight championship when the Season 78 women’s volleyball finals series unfurls on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
And for the fifth consecutive time, the Katipunan belles go up against archrival La Salle in a tiff that will break their 2-2 tie in the last 4 title clashes.
“Even if we’ve been seeing each other sa finals for the past 4 years, every championship match has had a different story,” Valdez told FOX Sports. “For the last time for the most of us, we hope this finals would be memorable for everyone no matter what the outcome.”
Valdez, along with teammate Amy Ahomiro and Lady Spikers Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Carol Cerveza and Mika Esperanza, are playing in their final year of eligibility in the UAAP, and with the exception of Ahomiro and Esperanza, have faced one another in the finals in each of the last 4 years.
This season has been the most intensely fought one for Ateneo and La Salle, with the 2 teams splitting their elimination round games.
Valdez, a 2-time MVP who is gunning for her sixth UAAP crown, knows how close the matchup is and thinks the team who will show fortitude and mastery of the sport’s fundamentals will come out on top.
“Going into the finals, more than the physical condition, dapat ready ka rin mentally and emotionally,” she explained. “Definitely, we have to focus on our basics like service receive. We also have to work on our floor defense and blocking.”
The Lady Eagles’ shaky reception was the Lady Spikers’ main target in their first-round matchup, as the Taft squad fired rocket after rocket from the service line.
But the back-to-back defending champions bounced back nicely in Round 2, shaking La Salle mentally and taking advantage of their opponents’ 37 unforced errors.
More than the numbers, however, Valdez believes the secret to their last 2 titles will be the key to a 3-peat.
“We have to enjoy our few remaining moments together as a team, remain positive and happy inside and outside of the court,” she said of their “happy, unity, heart strong” mantra.
As seen in their 2 matches this season, Ateneo would need to practice “happy, unity, heart strong” all game long as Valdez thinks they are facing a really deep team.
“Each of them has the ability to performa and deliver during the game,” she said. “They’re really good from their first 6 down to their 14th player.” — By Josiah Albelda