Creamline team captain Alyssa Valdez couldn’t hold back her tears following the Cool Smashers’ five-set loss to Kurashiki in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference final.
Valdez was heartbroken after missing the chance to close out the game and be with her teammates inside the court in the final two sets of their 25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 13-15 loss at the hands of the Ablaze on Sunday night.
“I’m very happy I’m able to actually play games. It’s just so sad that I couldn’t finish the conference physically,” said Valdez, who was seen limping right after the match.
The 30-year-old Valdez, though, vowed to use this painful experience as motivation to come back better and stronger in the season-ending conference.
“So yeah, I’ve learned so much. I’m just grateful to be back on court with my teammates, and I think after this, there are a lot of reasons to improve more and really focus on getting back a hundred percent on the court,” said Valdez.
Although she had a shaky start in the Invitationals, Valdez still managed to slowly return to form heading into the semifinals – where she played a pivotal role in helping the Cool Smashers reach their ninth finals appearance.
The Ateneo great, however, hit a snag in their final semis game against Kurashiki last Friday.
Valdez, whose left knee was iced during the match, was not inserted in the final frame of their four-set loss to the Japanese club as well.
“I think as an athlete normal naman na merong masakit. I just came from an injury also. Medyo nakakalungkot na out of all the days din but no excuses. Japan really did a good job today, everyone in our team played very well,” said Valdez.
“So we’re just grateful for this opportunity na ang dami naming natutunan but isa lang yung mananalo and we want to congratulate the Japan team.”
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Valdez is still happy with how the rest of the Cool Smashers stepped up in the Invitationals.
“At the end of the day everyone in our team really did a good job from our bench. Talagang kahit sino kasi andun na yung sistema namin so kahit sinong kuhanin sa team namin talagang mag-dedeliver,” said Valdez.
“I think the main thing that happened this conference is everyone really stepped up. Kung sinong ipasok ng coaches namin. It’s a very short tournament so everyone was capable and able to contribute to the team so I think yun yung good sign na nakuha namin this conference.”
Valdez also said that she is dedicating her Best Outside Spiker award to her teammates and coaches, who she said helped and motivated her to return after missing a total of seven months due to a right knee injury she sustained last December.
“I didn’t really expect na makakakuha ako ng award.
“It was really because of my teammates, grabe support nila. I think I wouldn’t be able to overcome these things, challenges if not for them and my coaches so it’s really for everyone,” the multiple-time league MVP said.