Alyssa Valdez’ one of the country’s most prolific scorers in volleyball, could not contain her excitement after her team’s victory in the opening game of the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference. Ateneo overwhelmed the UST Tigresses in four sets, 25-11, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20.
What makes this victory so much more special was the fact that the Lady Eagles were playing through a rash of injuries to their roster. The team has two players from the starting six who are unable to play due to injury. The team’s setter, Jia Morado, is supposedly out for the tournament due to a knee injury, while Alyssa is also sitting out for the time being. Therese Gaston will also be unable to play for her school this V-League due to a stress fracture on her shin.
To compound the team’s injury woes, Kat Tolentino suffered an accident during the warm-up prior to the game. Thankfully her injury isn’t serious, and she will be ready top play in a few weeks.
With such a depleted lineup, you’d think that Ateneo would find itself in trouble in their game against a gritty UST squad. But the team in blue had nothing to worry about, as numerous players stepped up to fill in the void left by the injured players.
Three Ateneans scored in double-digits, with Jhoanna Maraguinot leading the way with 23 points, followed by Amy Ahomiro’s 14 and Bea De Leon’s 12 markers. Their rookie, Risa Sato was also pivotal in the win, pitching in 9 points as well.
After the match, team captain Alyssa Valdez was all smiles and compliments for her team. She likened herself to a fan, cheering her team on from the sidelines all throughout the match.
“Being a fan of these girls today, sobrang sobrang nakakaproud talaga. They’re work hard talaga, every training, twice a day. They deserve everything talaga. I’m really proud of them” shared Alyssa. “It’s weird na I’m shouting tapos hindi naman naglalaro. Kasi usually I’m in the court trying to give instruction or boost the morale of my teammates. So habang nasa labas ako iniisip ko ‘naririnig kaya nila ako?’ and at the same time, nakikita ko yung passion and yung hard work nila. Sobrang nakakaproud.”
While there’s nothing seriously wrong about her health, Alyssa was asked to sit out a few games so she wouldn’t burn out from over-fatigue. Despite this, Alyssa can’t wait to get back into the court with her teammates.
“I really wanted to play kasi it’s been a long time since I’ve played with these girls. I last played with them nung March ata. After nun PLDT and then Under 23 and SEA Games. Sobrang nakaka-excite to be able to play with your teammates talaga. Looking forward sana makatraining ako,” added Valdez. “Siyempre naman. It’s really another chance for me to learn different things sa mga kalaban. Definitely madami ako matututunan as a player. It’s a new challenge for us as a team din since graduate na si Ella and Den, sobrang big loss for the team.”
To many fans, the biggest surprise during the game was the stellar performance of Maraguinot. She picked up the scoring void left by Valdez as she scorched the UST defenders for 23 points, many of them coming from back row attacks.
“Even before naman she’s like that. Every time she delivers. Oh my God, I’m really proud, sobra. Nakita na yung hard work niya sa training. She really deserves lahat ng nangyayari ngayon. She’s going to be Jhoanna Maraguinot.”