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    Best of the Decade: Alyssa Valdez leads PH volleyball renaissance

    Jan 1, 2020

    PHENOM.

    Alyssa Valdez is a phenomenal volleyball player in every sense of the word.

    From her humble beginnings in her hometown in San Juan, Batangas, Valdez soared to heights never before reached by a Filipino spiker, playing a vital role in volleyball’s renaissance and earning her rightful place among Philippine sports greats.

    Behind her sweet and innocent smile, Valdez is blessed with unbelievable hops and competitive fire that turn her into a dreaded outside spiker once on the court.

    During the 2008-2009 season of the UAAP, Valdez, teaming up with Kim Fajardo and Jaja Santiago, capped her stellar high school career at University of Santo Tomas with a hat-trick of girls’ volleyball titles.

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    In her first year in college at Ateneo back in 2012, Valdez proved her worth as she led the Lady Eagles to their first-ever finals appearance in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament in Season 74 and again in Season 75, only to bow to La Salle each time.

    Stronger and wiser, Valdez, who captured her first MVP award in 2014, stood at the forefront of Ateneo's breakthrough as the Lady Eagles overcame the thrice-to-beat advantage La Salle had in Season 76.

    Many predicted a four-peat for the Taft-based squad but Valdez, along with super rookies Jia Morado and Mich Morente, cut La Salle down to size and handed Ateneo its first-ever championship in the UAAP since joining the league in 1978.

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    A year later, Valdez was close to unstoppable as the Lady Eagles arranged a fourth straight finals faceoff with the Lady Spikers and swept Season 77 in a rare 16-0 fashion. The year 2015 was no doubt Valdez’s peak, as she also bagged her second consecutive MVP award and became part of the national team.

    She competed in the Asian Women’s U-23 Volleyball Championship in Manila and the star-studded team that was formed to see action in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, which marked the Philippine volleyball team’s comeback in the biennial meet after a decade absence.

    To top it off, Valdez was named as the country’s flag bearer, making her only the second Filipino non-medalist to be given the honor boxing great Manny Pacquiao.

    In that same year, Valdez was chosen by SPIN.ph as the Game Changer among the Top 10 Sports Heroes of 2015 and she was named by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) as Miss Volleyball for the third straight year.

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    Valdez’s popularity grew over time, gaining fans from all walks of life and turning non-believers into supporters as her success went beyond the confines of the volleyball arena

    As she became a celebrity in her own right, she landed some lucrative endorsement deals, both in print and television commercials, and she became the muse for PBA team Talk ‘N Text during the league’s opening ceremony.

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    In her fifth and final year in the UAAP in 2016, Valdez looked to put a fitting end to her celebrated collegiate career. She led the Lady Eagles to the finals for the fifth straight year and, after a Game One loss, scored 34 big points in Game Two to drag the Lady Spikers to a winner-take-all match.

    But come Game Three, the perfect ending became elusive for Valdez as La Salle pulled off a four-setter victory to claim the Season 78 title.

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    Still, Valdez’s star shone as bright as ever as the Queen Eagle took her act to club leagues both in the local and international scenes.

    Valdez emerged as the face of the defunct Shakey’s V-League when she delivered back-to-back first conference championships to Ateneo in 2012 and led the powerhouse PLDT squad to Open and Reinforced Conference title runs in 2015.

    But the champion club was disbanded the following season with the star outside hitter having two different clubs in 2016. She played for BaliPure in the Open Conference and Bureau of Customs in Reinforced but Pocari Sweat, led by Myla Pablo and Michele Gumabao, established a dynasty of their own in V-League‘s final season, where Valdez collected a total of four titles, three Conference MVPs and two Finals MVPs.

    Valdez also took her talents overseas as she was tapped as import of 3BB Nakornnont in Thailand Volleyball League in 2016 and Attack Line in Chinese Taipei in 2017. Both clubs didn’t go deep in the playoffs in both leagues but the former Ateneo star was able to turn heads and showcase her skills.

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    After her international stint, the Batanguena hitter decided to fully commit with Creamline and delivered back-to-back championships Premier Volleyball League titles in 2018 with Jia Morado and Michele Gumabao.

    This year, the Cool Smashers were dethroned in the Reinforced Conference by Petro Gazz Angels, powered by super imports Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson. But the three-time PVL MVP and her squad got their revenge with a perfect record to rule the Open Conference anew.

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    The only missing piece for Valdez is a podium finish in the Southeast Asian Games, where she spearheaded the squad for three straight editions and fell short each time. But at 26 years old, the Phenom's career is far from over and she looks to hit new heights in 2020 and beyond.

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