KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - In a departure from the "happy, happy" persona that she usually displays in public, Alyssa Valdez was the picture of frustration following the Philippines' loss to Thailand in the semifinal of the women's volleyball tournament in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Matched up against a powerhouse team that is ranked 16th in the world, the Filipinas succumbed in straight sets, 21-25, 17-25, and 17-25 on Saturday morning at MiTEC's Hall 11 here.
Valdez scored 10 points, but it was a subpar performance for the former Ateneo ace as she committed several attack errors and was repeatedly shut down by the Thai blockers.
She also had no answer for Thailand veteran Pleumjit Thinkaow, who powered several spikes through and off her throughout the match.
Valdez was eventually subbed out early in the third frame, with the Philippines trailing 5-11, and was in tears in the wake of the defeat even after receiving a bouquet of flowers from the Philippine contingent.
"This is my second time sa SEA Games, I really want to do well and contribute for the team, and do well for the team talaga," a still teary-eyed Valdez said in the team's dugout after the game.
"So ganun, dumadaan talaga sa mga ganito," she added.
But the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player also noted that she cannot dwell on her emotions.
On Sunday, the Philippine women's volleyball team plays its final game of the tournament, in a battle for the bronze medal against either Vietnam or Indonesia.
"There's no way but to go up and recover fast para sa susunod na laban," said Valdez.
She added that it is only natural for an athlete "to be competitive and to be frustrated," but also "to move forward knowing na andiyan ang mga kasama mo na patuloy na lalaban talaga."
Valdez was not the only member of the Philippine team to be emotional at the end of the match, with players like Maika Ortiz also appearing frustrated with their performance.
Meanwhile, coach Francis Vicente said he was unsure why Valdez was in tears at the end of the game, but exhorted the player to stay strong.
"For me pagka ganoon, ang player dapat hindi siya maging emotional inside. Kasi we are in battle, you have to be strong," he said.
The women's volleyball team plays its final game on Sunday at 10:00 a.m., with a bronze medal at stake. If they are successful, it will be the Philippines' best performance in the SEA Games' volleyball event since 2005.