After the Beach Volleyball competition in the 78th season of the UAAP that saw the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles bag the bronze medal, Ateneo’s Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez seemed to have taken a break from active competition.
Valdez, though, is not far away from her legions of fans as she frequents the UAAP Men’s Basketball games, while having stacks of commercials and endorsement deals, and multiple TV appearances.
However, the Phenom has been absent from where she is most phenomenal: the volleyball court. 2015 has had Valdez suit up for a title run in UAAP Season 77, National Team duties in the AVC U23 and the SEA Games, two SVL conferences with PLDT and Ateneo separately, and even compete in the UAAP 78 Beach Volleyball tournament last month. The Batangueña then caught a much-needed break, getting some mandated rest from intense volleyball competition.
Tiebreaker Times caught up with Valdez last Sunday in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference playoffs where she watched her club team, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters, drub the UP Lady Maroons to enter the Finals. But she was not attending the game just as a spectator; the Shakey’s V-League Open and Collegiate Conference MVP hosted the league’s Balibolista segment aired after matches where she interviewed teammate Sue Roces.
“It was my first time talaga to interview [someone on live TV]. Siguro it was more natural because I was talking to my teammate din. It was really like we were just having a conversation,” she said. “Usually, ako ‘yung sumasagot ng questions – it’s very different pala when it’s me that has to come up with things to ask. It was really fun and it was with Kuya (Sue Roces) and I really love Kuya. Sana magkaroon nang constructive criticisms para mag-improve pa din ako,” Valdez added, admitting that her experience hosting Phenoms, a TV5 show she headlines with fellow Atenean Kiefer Ravena, is totally different from interviewing fellow athletes. “Kasi with Phenoms we do it more spontaneously. A lot of it is just us improvising and having fun. Hindi tulad dito na may script.”
With the her Ateneo Lady Eagles shooting for an unprecedented three-peat in the upcoming UAAP Women’s Indoor Volleyball tournament starting this February, Valdez says that their vaunted Coach Tai’s daily practices have been occupying most of her schedule. “It’s mine and Kiwi’s (Amy Ahomiro) last year so it’s time to focus on Ateneo. So everyday training with the team and studying pa rin. Graduate na sila Ella (De Jesus), Denden (Lazaro), and Ate Aeriel (Patnongon) so kailangan extra effort and double time sa training. Big factors talaga ‘yung nawala sa amin. We’re a new team so we’re still trying to get to know each other on and off the court,” remarked Valdez, who finished her undergraduate degree on Psychology and is working on her master’s degree in Communications.
Valdez also finally got a chance to address speculation about her post-UAAP plans. Over the past few weeks, rumors and multiple articles communicating the desire of multiple local club teams to sign Valdez had circulated on social media. Alyssa wants to weigh her opportunities while promoting and improving local volleyball as well.
“I’m really looking forward to playing for the National Team, represent the country. Maybe play in commercial leagues kung may kukuha. And, if given the chance, why not explore international leagues and play in other countries. Para may ma-gain tayong experience and, when you go back, help the youth to know more about volleyball,” remarked the 5’9” open hitter. “We’ll see. We’ll have to make good decisions pero sana magamit ko ‘yung tinapos ko sa Ateneo.”
Responding to reports of teams willing to shower her with cash to wear their colors, Valdez is just happy that local volleyball players now have the opportunity make a proper living through the country’s flourishing club volleyball circuit. “I’m thankful na ganoon ‘yung respect sa lahat ng mga volleyball players – na ganoon na ‘yung respect na binibigay ng mga companies para magkaroon sila nang isang magandang team. May options na for players after college. It’s good for the sport,” quipped the academic standout adding that she is yet to personally hear from the teams reportedly clamoring for her services.
Valdez, however, is currently in PLDT’s 13-lady lineup for the on-going SVL Reinforced Conference. According to team officials, their doors are always open to having Valdez play even if they’re already in the Finals against the Army Lady Troopers. Having already added two powerful imports, PLDT could make short work of the best-of-three Finals with Valdez in tow.
Will Valdez play in the Finals? Game One starts this Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.