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    Alyssa Valdez shakes off injury concerns as Ateneo Lady Eagles eye fitting climax to dream playoff run

    Mar 14, 2014
    Both Alyssa Valdez and Denden Lazaro are nursing injuries in the playoffs. Jerome Ascano

    THE UAAP women’s volleyball Finals couldn’t get any better than this – old rivals Ateneo and La Salle getting at each other in a winner-take-all showdown for the title.

    A jampacked crowd is expected at the Mall of Asia Arena for the 4 p.m. encounter that serves as the final game of the league’s 76th season.

    The Lady Eagles made the blockbuster ending possible after hacking out a thrilling 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15 in Game Three Wednesday that took away top-seeded La Salle's thrice-to-beat advantage and reduced the battle into a sudden-death affair.

    La Salle is eyeing a fourth straight title, while Ateneo is aiming for its first women’s volleyball title in the league.

    This will actually be the Lady Eagles’ third straight year of playing in the Finals, and while they say third’s time a charm, for team captain Alyssa Valdez, winning the crown will depend on God’s will.

    “'Yung pinaka-masasabi ko third time, fourth time, or kahit ilang times pa 'yan, God's will talaga,” she said. “Basta kami ibibigay namin all out, all heart, kahit anong mangyari basta kami binigay namin ang best namin, masaya kami.”

    It has one dream run for the Lady Eagles, who have now survived four do-or-die matches against Adamson, National University, and La Salle since the stepladder semifinals started while enduring injuries to Valdez and most recently, libero Dended Lazaro.

    But the charismatic Ateneo leader downplayed her ailing knee especially with the Lady Eagles now within reach of a breakthrough championship.

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    “Ah wala, namamaga lang 'yung tuhod ko,” she said. “Everytime na napapagod na kasi ako mahina na 'yung tuhod ko, medyo bumibigay.”

    “Pero it's part of the game," she added. "Siguro blessing in disguise na rin 'yung injury kasi kahit papano nakaka-rest kami ni Den."

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    Both Alyssa Valdez and Denden Lazaro are nursing injuries in the playoffs. Jerome Ascano
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