Current Ateneo Lady Eagles, PLDT Home Ultera Fast Spikers superstar and Women’s Under-23 Volleyball national team captain Alyssa Valdez is one of the finest volleyball players in the country. But in their game against Iran, even her valiant efforts weren’t enough to lift the Philippines against one of Asia’s powerhouse volleyball squads.
“Iran played really well. Their blocking, service, and their floor defense were really well. They played as a team so it’s really hard for us to move with them,” said Valdez, who scored a game-high 31 points in the game.
In addition, the country was in unfamiliar territory as they put their talents in an international meet for the first time since the 90s. The obvious inexperience of the Filipinos was clearly evident against Iran as they tend to crumble under pressure when the game got tight.
“Siguro iyong pinakamakikita talaga na obvious difference they had was experience kasi they really held tight sa last few points ng every set,” added Valdez. “Kami medyo, as an inexperienced team, doon kami [nagkakaroon] ng errors. So siguro iyon ang dapat na next namin na matutunan this year.”
Setting aside the stingy feeling after losing to a more superior Iran, Valdez indicated that this experience will eventually transform her and the rest of the team into better players in the near future. Also, being part of the Philippine team is one of the rare privileges that a top-notch athlete could have during their peak playing years.
“I’m really happy, and it’s an honor to be part of the Philippine team, kasi konti lang po ang nabibigyan ng pagkakataon. To represent the Philippines, is an honor,” Valdez added
In the earlier part of the game, the Philippines looked like the better team as they opened the game with a series of powerful attacks led by Valdez and Jaja Santiago. However, an incident midway through the game saw Valdez wince in pain as she injured her wrist after blocking a spike from the Iranians.
“It’s [hand] swelling pero it’s okay,” Valdez quickly said regarding her injury.
Valdez managed to play through the discomfort, and put up a gallant stand and motivate the team to push harder against the composed Iran squad. They may not have captured the win, but the team was better off when Valdez was inside the court given her contagious energy that rubs off on anyone.
After the match, PH U23 head coach Roger Gorayeb was also left in awe as his star player managed to continue playing inside the court despite being in pain. Also citing it as a learning experience for Valdez and the rest of the crew, he hopes that they can bank on it when they square off in other international contests.
“Papakiramdamin lang namin itong si Alyssa kasi she is a big inspiration to her teammates and to the volleyball community,” Gorayeb added. “Ito namang batang ito, eh kaya natawag kong Baldo kasi maski nahihirapan na at kahit nasasaktan na hindi mo maririning na dumadaing yan kasi kaya niya lagi.”
“And as much as possible, we want Alyssa to be there. Kung sinabi ni Alyssa bukas na ok, itutuloy namin yan hanggang kaya niya. Mayroon naman kaming capable na ipapalit sa kanya pero it’s a big difference when Alyssa is inside. Ibang-iba ang inspiration na binibigay niya.”
Now, picking up a thing or two in their first match, Valdez and the rest of the Philippines shall now place their bets today against Kazakhstan, 2:30 pm, at the Philsports Arena.
“Hopefully tuloy-tuloy ang oppurtunities for Philippine volleyball and sana we’re all united,” Valdez ended.