Alyssa Valdez on La Salle defeat: 'There’s a reason for everything'
MANILA, Philippines – It’s been 3 days since reigning champions Ateneo Lady Eagles shockingly bowed to rivals De La Salle University Lady Spikers in an easy straight set win. Three days since Ateneo’s 24-game winning streak was broken. Still, the shock hasn't subsided.
However for team captain Alyssa Valdez, volleyball is just any other game where you win some and lose some. To her, everything happens for a reason, including this painful loss.
“If we’re not gonna experience something like this, how can we manage to get up again and be on our feet again? So I guess there’s a reason for everything that’s happening in our team. Let the story unfold,” she said in the post-game interview last Saturday at the Big Dome.
“You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some.”
Exploiting Ateneo's vulnerability
The Lady Spikers hit the Lady Eagles where they were most vulnerable and that’s their defensive line. Ateneo is still on its way to adjusting and improving their floor coverage after losing ace liberos Denden Lazaro and Ella De Jesus to graduation.
Present libero Jamie Lavitoria, who has been a reserve for the Blue and White for the past two years, filled up the position last Saturday but lacked the maturity and experience to take the lethal kills of veterans Kim Fajardo, Ara Galang, and Mika Reyes.
“It’s part of the game. Maturity, experience, patience,” Valdez said.
Fajardo, who is not known as an attacker, exploded with 13 points including 7 aces and altogether, made 16 excellent sets.
Because of Ateneo’s poor reception, setter Jia Morado admitted that her job became more difficult in setting good plays.
“I tried not to get frustrated. Of course it cannot be avoided but I have to do what’s given to me,” she said. “I tried my best to remain composed. Not just me but all the seniors. Everyone of us actually.”
Aside from the prolific attacking that La Salle showcased, they were also able to neutralize the two-time season MVP Valdez, who was limited to 11 points. She’s the only one to finish with double digits for the Katipunan-based squad. (READ: No farewell tour just yet for graduating Alyssa Valdez)
“Sabi ko oh my god target ako. This is it,” Valdez jokingly told the press. (I knew I was the target.)
Despite everything, she makes sure that the main concern is for every single one of them to improve and be a better team as a whole. It’s about time for them to assess their weaknesses, train harder, and gel again as a team inside the court.
“We all hope that it’s a good learning experience for the team and for everyone. It’s an extra motivation for us to train and work hard, to be at our best everytime. We are told that we just have to focus.”
It’s heartbreaking to lose to a hungrier De La Salle side, which Ateneo had defeated in their last 6 straight meetings. But Valdez gave enough credits to her opponents. (READ: La Salle regains swagger with emphatic win over Ateneo)
“La Salle really played well. They prepared really well.”
Now that the first round of eliminations is drawing to a close, Ateneo looks forward to going back to the drawing board to avoid a repeat of this defeat when they face the Lady Spikers in the second round. More importantly, the champions showed heart and humility in accepting that all streaks are meant to be broken.
“It was a good run for us but maybe it really has to stop and make another one,” Valdez said with a smile. – Rappler.com