The PLDT onslaught continues to topple the other teams in the league one-by-one. The latest victim was the Cagayan Rising Suns, who was defeated by PLDT in four sets. As usual, Alyssa Valdez dominated the match, scoring a team high 25 points. This time, however, she was paced by NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones, who finally made her presence known in the Shakey’s V-League, as she contributed 21 points for PLDT, that now holds a pristine 4-0 record.
Gretchel showed complete humility when asked about her brilliant performance, as she put emphasis on the errors she made while on the court.
“Masaya po, siyempre hindi din ako nag-eexpect sa mga ginagawa ko. Knowing na magagaling din ‘yung mga kasama ko,” said Gretchel. “Ewan ko po kung maganda ‘yung laro ko, okay lang siguro. Pero andun pa rin ‘yung error ko.”
Gretchel credits her training with the U23 team as the reason for her improved play. Despite the rigours of the training regimen, she does not complain even if she’s exhausted, because Gretchel wants to achieve the goals she has set for herself.
“Sobrang nakakapagod sa training. Bugbog sa training. Pero hindi naman excuse yun, responsibilidad namin mag training. Sobrang nakakapagod talaga ‘yung training kay Tai, ganun din kay Coach Roger. Sabay ‘yung training namin,” said Gretchel
“Hindi talaga ako naggi-giveup, kahit sobrang pagod na, kasi may goal ako dito.”
And what are her goals? Gretchel hopes that she can win a championship by the time she graduates from San Sebastian. Another reason for her constant training is that she does not want to disappoint her idol and teammate, Alyssa Valdez.
Gretchel’s San Sebastian Coach, Roger Gorayeb compared Soltones to a young Valdez. “Si Gretchel [ngayon], parang si Alyssa nung araw na makikita mo lahat [sa kanya]. Ngayon less na ‘yung management ko kay Alyssa. Hindi katulad ni Gretchel gagabayan mo pa siya. Kaya sabi ko lagi sa kanya, Gretchel, mag-mature ka na. Kasama mo na ngayon ‘yung mga kailangan mo para lumakas ka. I-ayos mo na,” said Gorayeb about his Lady Stag.
“[Gusto ko] na maging maayos ‘yung laro ko, kasi idol na idol ko si ate Alyssa, tapos kasama ko siya. Para na din preparation for NCAA. Kasi pag ako grumaduate, sana mag-champion kami. Sana sa indoor naman,” said the two-time NCAA Beach Volleyball champ.
She idolizes Alyssa so much that Gretchel even tries to copy Alyssa’s celebration after every point.
“Ginagaya ko rin si Alyssa. Kaso nakakapagod din minsan mag ‘heyyy!’ tapos talon ng talon. Pero okay lang naman, nakakaboost ng morale,” Gretchel shyly shared.
That isn’t the only thing Gretchel shares with Alyssa. As Coach Roger said, Gretchel shares the “heart strong” attitude that Alyssa has.
“Dati pa ako ganoon, ma-heartstrong talaga kasi tinuruan ako ni Coach Roger na maging matapang.”
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