WITH five key players leaving, Ateneo volleyball star Alyssa Valdez is keeping her expectations in check when she returns for another season in the UAAP.
Valdez has established herself as one of the league's premier players this season, getting into the conversation for the MVP award while leading the Lady Eagles to a second successive trip to the finals.
But a sweep at the hands of arch-rivals De La Salle in the best-of-three finals denied Ateneo a maiden league title and ruined the swansong of seniors Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, and A Nacachi.
On the shoulders of the power-spiking Valdez now falls the responsibility of keeping Ateneo a threat to La Salle's quest for a fourth straight title, and she is the first to admit it won't be easy.
“Sa amin, walang expectations dahil maraming ga-graduate,” Valdez told Spin.ph.
Valdez has yet to get over the disappointment of falling short of a title for a second straight season, saying she felt bad not to see her senior teammates put what could have been a fitting end to their college careers.
“Nalulungkot kami kasi ga-graduate na ‘yung mga seniors namin," she said. "Pero walang regrets. Mas maganda lang linaro ng La Salle compared sa amin (sa finals)."
However, Valdez is hoping fellow holdovers will now step up to fill the void left by the 'Fab Five,' while counting on the school's aggressive recruitment program to unearth more talent for another run at the title next season.
“Kung okay ‘yung recruitment magiging stable pati sa lahat, makakabalik din kami sa finals next year,” Valdez said.