It was clear from the start of the 2016 Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference Finals that the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors were the best team in the league.
Boasting a core of locals who have played at least one conference together and two towering imports, Pocari Sweat was the most complete team in the league. The Bureau of Customs Transformers, on the other hand, were a mixed bag of volleyball talents. From journeymen to young Thai players, BOC were all over the board.
But they had the winningest Shakey’s V-League player ever, Alyssa Valdez, to patch the seems and tie the team together.
Valdez’s leadership and offensive work rate were the reasons BOC managed a winning elimination round record despite missing their imports and key local players for three games due to eligibility reasons. BOC adapted Valdez’s never-give-up spirit that throttled them past Bali Pure and a 0-1 series hole in the semifinals.
In the Finals, Pocari Sweat quickly turned into a challenge the young and spirited BOC could not handle. Game One was a romp and Game Two seemed like a quick prelude to a coronation ceremony with the Lady Warriors dominating the first two sets.
The frontline of Pocari Sweat blanketed Valdez, focusing their net and floor defense to limit the Phenom’s scoring. Also playing without their starting libero Jonalyn Ibisa, it was time for Valdez’s teammates to step up.
BOC’s Thai import Kanjana Kuthaisong suddenly caught fire and the Transformers’ defense found their groove. Customs won the third set and kept the fourth set close before crucial calls and errors cost them the fourth set and the championship.
Still overrun with emotions, Valdez was proud to see her team come together one last time even if they couldn’t pull off a win.
“I’m very proud of my team. We’re a new team, a lot of young players na this season lang nagkakilala.
“Pocari Sweat is so strong and I’m just happy that we could show out best against them. Ang daming nangyari sa team this season and for us to reach the Finals is a already a great achievement,” BOC’s skipper, who was limited to 10 points, said. “We gave it our all, and, at the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for.
“The mark of an athlete talaga is how you bounce back from adversity and the challenges that you encounter and I’m proud kasi we showed that we could do that. Win or lose, we are still really blessed.”
Although she already has a lifetime’s worth of achievements, Valdez remains determined for the future.
“I’m really thankful for everyone who has been with me and supporting me especially to everyone na nandoon na since day one. When you have this kind of support system, you really can’t help but aspire for better things and be a better a person,” the three-time V-League MVP said.
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