Ateneo players rejoice after scoring a point against La Salle. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
Pinantay lang namin ang laban, says Ateneo star
MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Lady Eagles were rightfully ecstatic after they handed defending champions De La Salle their first loss of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament with a four-set victory in Game 1 of the Finals.
But team captain Alyssa Valdez was quick to remind her teammates that their job was not even close to being done, however, as they had only managed to equalize in the series.
“Hindi pa namin masyadong iniisip, kasi madami pa, mahaba pa,” Valdez said after the game. “Kailangan namin mag-focus pa.”
“Compared noong (semi-finals series) sa (National University), wild talaga kami. Pero ngayon, kailangan namin mag-focus pa kasi start pa lang. Pinantay pa lang namin ‘yung laban,” she stressed.
Valdez and the Lady Eagles were underdogs against the Lady Spikers, who dominated the season and won all 14 of their games, earning an outright Finals berth along with a thrice-to-beat advantage.
But Ateneo shattered La Salle’s aura of invincibility with an impressive four-sets win that rendered the championship series a virtual best-of-three.
Valdez pointed to their teamwork as the key in the victory, noting that their rookies – Michelle Morente and Julia Morado – played fearlessly against the Lady Spikers.
“Feeling ko talaga ‘yung teamwork. Everyone contributed, everyone played well. I feel proud kasi, ako na ‘yung pinakamatanda, tapos nakikita mo ‘yung mga bata, all-out talaga. Wala silang kinatatakutan talaga. Siyempre, nakaka-motivate din ‘yun,” she said.
Valdez is expecting La Salle to bounce back in Game 2. “La Salle ‘yan,” she said. “Alam naman natin ‘yung capability ng La Salle.”
In Season 74, Valdez’s first year for Ateneo, the Lady Eagles also defeated a thrice-to-beat La Salle team in Game 1 of the Finals, only to drop the next two games. Valdez is hopeful that history won’t repeat itself.
“Pina-alala ulit sa amin na nangyari ‘yun, at dahil nga nangyari ‘yun, mas conscious kami,” Valdez said. “Alam na namin. Advantage ‘yun kasi alam na namin ‘yung dapt naming gawin, and that is to stay focused at mag-training para mag-improve pa, kasi hindi pa tapos ‘yung laban.”