Impressed Alyssa Valdez excited to see young Ateneo team flourish

She may not have seen action in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference but for Alyssa Valdez, seeing her former Ateneo teammates evolve into contenders right before her very eyes has given her enough high to beam with satisfaction from the sidelines at the PhilSports Arena.

Though the Lady Eagles failed to stop NU’s barrage of attacks mostly coming from scoring machine Jaja Santiago, there is no denying that the girls off Katipunan put up a good fight, bringing both Games 1 and 2 to a total of 10 grueling sets for the opponents.

And like a proud big sister, Valdez lauds the effort of the happy, heartstrong crew.

“Sobrang sarap panoorin ng mga bata. Sobrang sarap makita na lumalaban sila,” gushed Valdez, who decided to forego her last conference as a regular player for Ateneo to give way to the rebuilding team.

“Pinakita nila na hindi sila susuko at ibibigay talaga nila ang lahat,” she added. “Umpisa pa lang ganito na sila. What more ‘yung mai-improve nila at maa-achieve sa mga darating na tournaments.”

Wednesday’s tough loss will be the second straight year that the Lady Eagles bowed to the Lady Bulldogs in the V-League finals after suffering from the same fate last year.

But for Valdez, who finished as a runner-up in her first 2 years in the UAAP before getting the historic back-to-back title runs in Season 76 and 77, it is now up to the new set of Lady Eagles how they will react to the heartbreak.

“Playing in the finals tapos 2 games pa 5 sets parehas, for sure malaki na ‘yung natulong sa kanila. Now it’s up to them kung paano nila i-carry at tatanggapin ‘yung pagkatalo ngayon,” she said, putting things in perspective.

“The girls started from the bottom. Being here is a reward for them. They gave NU a hard time and we’re just thankful na umabot kami dito,” she added.

Valdez then went on to applaud her teammates one by one saying that everyone contributed to the journey which shall only lead the team to greater heights in the months and years to come.

And with Jho Maraguinot slowly but surely returning to her full form, the imminent return of Maddie Madayag, and the possible UAAP debut of Kat Tolentino, the 3-time UAAP MVP can’t help but be excited for what the future holds for Ateneo.

On the Lady Eagles still being a strong contender come Season 79, she quips: “Biased naman ako. Love na love ko ‘yung team.”

“Masasabi ko na ngayon pa lang, kahit hindi pa sila kumpleto, lumalaban na sila. What more pag kumpleto na sila?” Valdez said. “Hopefully, i-enjoy lang nila ‘yung company ng isa’t isa and ‘yung paglalaro ng volleyball.” — By Mac Dionisio

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