STA. ROSA, Laguna — Alyssa Valdez only had limited time to train with the women’s national team but she still delivered the goods for a rousing start in ASEAN Grand Prix Second Leg.
After missing the Nationals’ training camp and Bronze medal finish in the Thailand leg due to right ankle injury, Valdez made her presence felt right away, leading the rousing three-set victory over Vietnam on Friday’s opener before the ecstatic home crowd at the Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Gym.
“First game back after ilang days na hindi ako nakapagtraining with the team. I'm really happy na nakakacontribute rin ako to the best of my abilities din,” said Valdez, who finished with game-high 14 points despite only training with the team on Thursday and Friday morning.
It was Philippines’ first three-set win over Vietnam in recent memory surpassing its pair of five-set wins in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Asian Women’s Seniors Championship 2017 and the first leg of Asean Grand Prix two weeks ago.
The national team mainstay nailed 12 kills out of 28 attempts, fired a pair of aces and had six excellent receptions but she attributed their great start to her teammate playing without Filipina-Americans Kalei Mau, nursing an achilles injury, and Alohi Robins-Hardy, who already begged off.
“Everyone stepped up and napagaralan naman ng coaches and the team kung ano 'yung mga plays na gagawin nila,” the three-time Premier Volleyball League MVP said. “Alam mo na total team effort kasi napakagaling ng playnaker natin, blocking natin, napakaganda rin today.“
Valdez’s fellow wing spikers Ces Molina and Mylene Paat were also instrumental with 13 points apiece, Majoy Baron and Aby Maraño manned the middle, Jia Morado provided the brilliant plays, while Dawn Macandili protected the floor.
“Sana magtuloy tuloy lang 'yung improvement at madami pa kaming malaman sa isa't isa because of this tournament,” she said.
The Ateneo standout is also grateful for their seventh man in the court, their roaring homecrowd at the stands, for keeping the Filipina Spikers energized and motivated all-game long.
“Iba talaga ang pakiramdam. It's always nice to play here in your home (country). I think it added energy and motivation to always,” Valdez said. “Siyempre pagod na rin, but when we hear the crowd really cheering until the, maka-point, hindi maka-point, iba rin talaga 'yung nagagawa niya sa morale din naming manglalaro.“
However, Valdez and other PVL players Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Maddie Madayag already rushed their way to the airport and going to miss the Philippines’ match against powerhouse Thailand on Saturday due to their Open Conference matches in Iloilo City.
But the star open spiker believes that her remaining teammates will step up and national team head coach Shaq Delos Santos has already put up a game plan for their absence.
“Well, kasi may mga prior commitments din tayo na naka-set na din talaga but we're really praying for the rest of the team,” Valdez said. “Siyempe alam naman natin na magse-step up 'yung mga nasa team at alam natin 'yung mga strategies na gagawin ni coach Shaq and 'yung coaching staff namin going to the game against Thailand.”
The PVL stars will return to action against Indonesia on Sunday.
“We're going to be back on Sunday to really contribute and help the team at the same time,” Valdez said.