THE fifth and deciding set.
That is how Ateneo star and graduating player Alyssa Valdez described her fifth and final faceoff with arch-rival La Salle in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament finals.
For five consecutive seasons from Season 74 to now, the Lady Eagles and the Lady Spikers have clashed for the championship. The Taft-based squad took the first two meetings before Ateneo evened the contest in the next two showdowns.
For the 22-year old Valdez, each of her five seasons in the collegiate league has ended with the Lady Eagles meeting their fiercest rivals in the title game.
The inony is not lost on the Queen Eagle.
“Parang five-setter na (game) tapos 2-2 pa, oh my God,” she said on Thursday night after practice at the Blue Eagle gym at Ateneo. “And what a way to end it, during our last year pa na mga nag-start talaga.”
Aside from Valdez, Amy Ahomiro and Mae Tajima are also in their final year with Ateneo, while Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Mika Esperanza and Carol Cerveza are also graduating for La Salle.
“It’s been really a long journey for both teams and I’m really happy for us na graduating, we’re ending it together,” said Valdez. “No matter what happens, no matter what ending, I think it’s gonna be a memorable UAAP Season 78.”
Experts and plain fans of both teams have laid down their bets but the back-to-back MVP isn't about to make any predictions. All she knows, Valdez said, is that the best-of-three title series, which starts on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, will go down the wire.
“I think it’s gonna be exciting, no one will give up and really it’s really gonna be for our 'team heart strong.' But all of us, we’ll give our strongest heart this coming games,” said Valdez.