WATCH: Alyssa bids emotional goodbye to UAAP
MANILA, Philippines – A 31-point effort was not enough for Alyssa Valdez and the Ateneo Lady Eagles as they lost to the De La Salle Lady Spikers in four sets in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball Finals on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was an emotional loss for Valdez, who slowed down after a powerful start that saw her score five of Ateneo's first six points. By the third and fourth sets, she was repeatedly getting denied by the La Salle tandem of Majoy Baron and Kim Dy, or her spikes were going either short or long.
In the end, the Lady Spikers came through with a 19-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 victory to snap Ateneo's two-year title reign. Valdez, the three-time Most Valuable Player, ended her career with a loss to their arch-rivals.
Through her tears, Valdez made her way to the La Salle side of the court, hugging longtime friend and former high school teammate Kim Fajardo. She exchanged a long hug as well with La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus, before making her way around the court to applaud the fans – who responded by chanting "M-V-P, M-V-P!"
When it was time to receive their medals and the second runner-up trophy, Valdez – as she had done all season long – led the way for the Lady Eagles. As they faced the plethora of cameras, Valdez turned to her teammates and said, "Smile, girls!"
(READ: Lady Spikers complete 3-year journey with title No. 9)
It may have been a tearful goodbye for Valdez, but afterward she had nothing but words of praise for the Lady Spikers.
"They really played well today," Valdez said to start her final post-match press conference. "They really played as a team, and they're really strong."
"Our team naman is just so thankful to be in the finals, because we really didn't expect to be here," she added. "We didn't expect na magiging number one kami after the eliminations, and I think, our team naman, we couldn't ask for more."
"We played our best, we gave our best, and in any sport naman, giving your best and doing your best, no matter what, you're okay."
Valdez made it clear that the loss stung – "We're gonna give ourselves time to accept all the things," she said – but also noted that it was not the end for her or for the Ateneo volleyball program.
"Life goes on," she said. "Hindi naman 'yun natatapos dito."
"I still believe in my team, in our team, in Ateneo, in Coach Tai. Win or lose, it's really the school we choose," she stressed.