WHERE is Alyssa Valdez?
That's the question running in the mind of most volleyball fans who trooped to The Arena in San Juan on Easter Sunday to watch opening matches of the Shakey's V-League Season 12 Open Conference.
Valdez, the reigning UAAP MVP from Ateneo, was supposed to banner PLDT Home Ultera team in its debut against a Baguio selection but was conspicuously missing in the run-up to the match, to the disappointment of blue-clad fans in the gallery.
Spin.ph later learned that Valdez attended a family reunion in her hometown in San Juan, Batangas and failed to get back to Manila in time for the match.
"Wala si Alyssa," confirmed Ricky Palou, Ateneo athletic director and official or organizing sports Vision. "She has a family reunion."
According to PLDT Home Ultera assistant coach Clint Malazo, the Ateneo Lady Eagles star tried to make it to the match but was caught in traffic that builds up in roads leading back to Manila after the Lenten holiday.
Malazo said team officials granted Valdez permission to take the Batangas break since she needs to rest and spend time with her family after the Lady Eagles' championship run in the UAAP.
"Kagagaling lang nila sa championship, nagpaalam naman siya matagal na, kaya hindi niya rin pwede i-postpone and naiintindihan namin syempre," he said.
Even without Valdez, the Ultra Fast Hitters still proved too strong as they downed the Baguio selection, 25-10, 25-16, 25-21.
Meanwhile, it was not only Valdez who was absent during the match as head coach Roger Gorayeb, NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones and Amanda Villanueva were also in Thailand for the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Zonal Championships.
Gorayeb and Co. are expected to arrive in the country on Tuesday.