Alyssa Valdez admits Ateneo lacked confidence, killer instinct in loss

As Ateneo licks the wounds of a flattening straight-set loss to La Salle, Alyssa Valdez lauded the Lady Spikers for coming in ready for Game 1 of the UAAP women’s volleyball finals.

“La Salle really prepared for us super well,” the 2-time league MVP said after the Lady Eagles bowed, 22-25, 22-25, 21-25, Saturday night at the jampacked Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“They had tuloy tuloy na games and it worked to their advantage. They really want to win today’s game,” she added.

It wasn’t a sordid outing for the back-to-back defending champions, but what’s telling was Ateneo’s inability to protect the lead they built early in each of the 3 sets.

And in a championship game, there is little room for error.

Valdez explained the Lady Spikers’ advantage in experience worked wonders in Game 1, as the Taft belles overcame the pressure of trailing early to prevail in the series opener.

“It (experience) really showed in today’s game. Kahit na umaangat kami sa start, nahahabol talaga nila,” she said. “They’re really an experienced team and they’ve been in the finals for how many years already with that core.”

Seeing La Salle snatch sets proved to be the Lady Eagles’ death knell, as Valdez herself admitted their breakdown blew their self-confidence away.

“We’re lacking the killer instincts in today’s game. They gave us a good fight and they were good,” she shared. “Ayun, nanalo sila.”

Ateneo and Valdez will have 3 days to prepare for Game 2, which is set on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena — the place where the Lady Eagles avenged their Round 1 loss to the Lady Spikers in the elimination round.

While the loss hurts, the Batangas native chooses to just move forward to the next game.

“It will always go back to the basics. We just need to loosen up as a team, just enjoy the game, be happy and play for our teammates and coaches and for the people who supports us.” — By Arylle Magtalas