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    YEARENDER: Alyssa Valdez enjoys another big year as volleyball continues resurgence

    Jan 1, 2016
    Alyssa Valdez continues to be the face of Philippine volleyball. Jerome Ascano

    ALYSSA Valdez remained the biggest draw in the collegiate ranks and a commercial-amateur league, while Foton emerged as first-time champion in a club championship as volleyball continued its resurgence in the country.

    Let’s take a look at the memorable volleyball moments of 2015:

    Valdez leads Ateneo to a 16-0 season sweep of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament in March

    After winning its first title in 2014 since joining the league in 1978, the Lady Eagles immediately became the team to beat in the 2015 season with Valdez, 22, leading the fight for the Katipunan-based squad.

    Ateneo claimed the title after two finals matches with a La Salle side missing skipper Ara Galang, who went out with a knee injury in the semifinals against National University.

    The lopsided title-clinching match drew 20,705 fans, some lining up at the gates of the MOA Arena at dawn.

    [See Sweep 16 for Ateneo as Lady Eagles cap unbeaten run with domination of La Salle Lady Spikers]

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    Powerhouse team Petron scores sweep, tops the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Conference with a 13-0 record

    Volleyball stars Aby Marano, Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Rachel Anne Daquis led the charge for Petron against Shopinas.com in May.

    The Blaze Spikers’ feat was the first sweep in the three-year old club league.

    [See Petron Blaze Spikers complete unbeaten run to title in Super Liga All Filipino Conference]

    Foton breaks through

    Foton became only the third club to win a conference title in the Super Liga, pulling off an upset against the star-studded Blaze Spikers in the Grand Prix Conference early December.

    The Tornadoes leaned on hard-hitting American import and MVP Lindsay Stalzer, Katie Messing and NU star Jaja Santiago.

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    [See Stalzer, Messing lead from front as Foton beats Petron for maiden Super Liga title]

    In the Shakey’s V-League, PLDT Home Ultera won two of the three conferences — Open and Reinforced.

    Valdez, joined fellow collegiate stars Jaja Santiago and Gretcel Soltones at PLDT with veteran Sue Roces to rule the Open Conference in May.

    Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Janine Marciano and American imports Victoria Hurtt and Sareea Freeman joined the star-studded cast in the Reinforced Conference early December.

    Valdez missed the preliminaries and semifinals but was activated by PLDT for the title series despite not getting clearance from Ateneo.

    PLDT defeated the equally talented Philippine Army in both finals.

    [See Alyssa Valdez stars as PLDT Home Ultera beats Army to complete V-League title run]

    National University topped the other V-League tournament, the Collegiate Conference in October.

    PLDT and NU are both mentored by veteran tactician and former national team coach Roger Gorayeb.

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    That gave Gorayeb a personal triple crown, but the outspoken mentor was quick to dismiss what people in the volleyball circles called a grand slam.

    [See Gritty NU Lady Bulldogs clip Ateneo Lady Eagles' wings to win Shakeys V-League title]

    Jaja Santiago also won three titles in 2015, with three different teams

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    Santiago was a member of the PLDT team that bagged the V-League Open Conference, a member of the National University champion squad in the Collegiate Conference and was also a key player for Foton in the Super Liga GP.

    [See Dindin Santiago finds solace in seeing sister Jaja celebrate first Super Liga title]

    Beach volleyball also started to rise in 2015, with various tournaments being staged in the country.

    The tandem of Danika Gendrauli and Norie Jane Diaz ruled the first Super Liga beach volleyball in August, while Brazilian Rupia Inck and Bea Tan dominated the maiden Beach Volleyball Republic in December.

    [See Gendrauli bucks fever, combines with Diaz to rule as Superliga beach queens]

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    Alyssa Valdez continues to be the face of Philippine volleyball. Jerome Ascano
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