BE it in basketball and lately, women’s volleyball, there’s always been much hype whenever rivals Ateneo and La Salle would play each other.
And Saturday’s face-off between the two schools in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament is no exception.
But superstar player Alyssa Valdez is playing down the build up for the first meeting this season between the defending champion Lady Eagles and Lady Spikers, stressing it’s ‘just another game.’
Playing in her final year with Ateneo, the charming 22-year old back-to-back MVP likewise does not want to dwell too much on the fact that she’s down to her last two meetings with La Salle – at least in the eliminations.
“Definitely may ganoong factor (na last year ko na against La Salle) pero ayaw ko naman isipin na last ko, pero basta I’m really taking my time, making the most out of the few months na binibigay sa akin,” she said.
“It’s another game for us. Hindi naman namin kailangan masyadong isipin na it’s really a big game. It’s (just) another game,” she added.
The morena spiker from San Juan, Batangas refused to get nostalgic and emotional for the match - the first between the two teams since the Lady Eagles swept the Lady Spikers in the finals last year – and instead, tried to put a game face when asked about her thoughts on La Salle.
The Lady Spikers are parading a complete lineup this season, with top hitter Ara Galang back on board after recovering from an ACL injury she suffered during the step ladder semifinals against National University last year.
“(Kumpleto na ang La Salle) unlike noong nakalaban namin sila last year. We always say that La Salle has a really good system,” said Valdez.
“They’re really prepared every time they go in a game, and they’re going to back to their system, up man sila or down man sila. They really, through the years, na-polish talaga nila (ang system nila),” she added.
As for her team, Valdez is leaving it all up to head coach Tai Bundit.
“Kami naman every game pinaghahandaan namin and coach Tai will definitely pahihirapan rin kami (sa training) and gagawin ang trabaho niya para ma-assist kami, para ma-guide kami kung anong kailangan namin on Saturday,” she said.
Ateneo is currently on a roll, winning its first six games of the season to extend its unblemished record to 24 dating back to its season-sweep of last year.
La Salle, which is looking to end its two-year title drought, is right behind at second spot with a 4-1 card.