Great players step up in big moments.
Legendary players like Alyssa Valdez bring their best to every single match.
On a Wednesday evening, while her team were playing in a match they could realistically afford to lose, Valdez added to her lore.
Her Creamline Cool Smashers had been held a 2-0 sets lead against the struggling Tacloban Fighting Warays. During the match’s first set, Valdez landed awkwardly on her first spike attempt and felt pain in her right ankle.
But he former Ateneo Lady Eagle powered through the injury in the first set, before coming out twice in the second set just to have her ankle taped.
In the third set, with her resting on the bench, Creamline fell behind as Tacloban mustered a 16-11 start and threatened to drag the Cool Smashers into a fourth set.
At the onset of the third set, Creamline officials and trainers advised Valdez to sit out the rest of the match. But when her team needed her most, Valdez just could not stand by.
The Batangueña immediately shifted the momentum when she came in, then delivered thrice in a run that gave her squad a 25-24 lead.
After Creamline setter Jia Morado delivered the match-clinching ace, the Cool Smashers rushed the court and huddled around each other.
It was another legendary performance – just another day for Valdez.
“Hindi ko rin alam, sa paa ko pasulpot-sulpot. It’s been going on, matagal na rin. I think matagal na ito talaga. As much as possible we do a lot of therapy. I mean ginagawan naman ng paraan during trainings but I guess today gusto lang niyang sumulpot. Na-timingan lang siguro. Bad landing lang sa first set kaya medyo sumakit din,” she recalled, after leading all scorers with 17 points off 10 attacks, five aces, and two blocks.
“May adrenaline naman kasi kahit nararamdaman mo na medyo masakit, tapos nakikita mo na medyo down din naman ang team, so kailangan tumulong.”
Morado, who has been teammates with Valdez since UAAP Season 76, knew that her senior would want to return to the match when they were down.
“Sa lahat ng years na magkasama kami ni Ate Ly, I know naman na she can push past injuries, especially when she knows na kailangan siya ng team. We can see that she’s in pain, but she’s really a fighter,” recalled Morado, adding that Valdez had tried to hide the pain as best she could while hobbling around the court.
“She was more encouraging (when she went back in). Pinu-push niya kami to be better. She knew that we needed a little push.”
More the UAAP and PVL championships, the National Team stints, and record-setting performances, Valdez’s durability and unyielding desire to win is what has truly built her still-growing legacy.
“Kapag ganoon kasi, muscle memory na for us both,” Morado shared.
“If one of us is in pain, we know naman na we can rely on each other and our teammates.”
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