Alyssa Valdez to skip V-League playoffs to join depleted Ateneo in Asean University Games
Bali Pure will have to rely on Gretchel Soltones as Alyssa Valdez carries the fight for Ateneo in the AUG. Jaime Campos

ALYSSA Valdez will not suit up for BaliPure in their best-of-three series against Laoag for third place in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference.

The hard-hitting spiker said in an earlier interview that she was still weighing whether to play for the Purest Water Defenders or join her Ateneo teammates in Singapore for the Asean University Games as both stints fall on the same play dates. 

The V-League will resume on July 13 after taking a week-long break to give way to the ongoing Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Game Two of the battle for third will be on the 16th and if necessary Game Three is on the 19th, while the AUG will be held from July 11 to 16.

But Ricky Palou, president of league organizer Sports Vision and former Ateneo athletic director, said they will not stand in the way of Valdez playing in the Asean University Games for the depleted Lady Eagles, who will head off to Singapore on July 9.

Joining Valdez, Jhoanna Maraguinot, Jia Morado and Bea de Leon  in the team are Michelle Morente and Ana Gopico, who missed the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament due to academic issues and knee injury, respectively.

The trio will add firepower to the undermanned Lady Eagles without middle blocker Amy Ahomiro, who is ineligible due to citizenship issues, and Maddie Madayag, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

Therese Gaston and Mae Tajima are also not with the team.

“We used to have 14 players in the UAAP, so si Kiwi (Ahomiro) hindi pwede kasi foreigner. Si Maddie (Madayag) injured, si Therese Gaston umayaw na, si Mae Tajima wala na rin. Ang lineup natin doon ay 12 lang, so sa last UAAP core, 10 lang ang natira. Idadagdag na natin doon sina Mitch at Gopico,” said Lady Eagles team manager Tonyboy Liao.

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Meanwhile, Ateneo athletic director Emmanuel Fernandez shed light on the issue of why Ateneo, which failed in its bid for a UAAP three-peat, will represent the country in the biennial sports meet for student athletes instead of UAAP champion La Salle.

With the AUG shifting its schedule to July from the usual December playdate, the UAAP, acting on the request of AUG organizers, named Ateneo as the league's representative as early as November last year, Fernandez said. 

"Sending a team to the AUG was already decided by members of the UAAP board as early as late last year, way before La Salle won the women's volleyball title,” said Fernandez in a separate interview.

“Since the deadline was tight and we need to come up with the team, the UAAP board asked Ateneo to be its representative," added the Ateneo official.

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