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Volleyball: Alyssa ‘pressured, excited’ to play on national team again

MANILA, Philippines—Alyssa Valdez, together with Creamline teammate Jia Morado, rushed to the Arellano University Gym on Friday night after being stuck in traffic for more than two hours.

They were late for the first official tryout for the Philippine national women’s volleyball team, but neither player faced backlash from the coaching staff or the rest of the national team hopefuls.

Instead, they were welcomed with smiles by other players, before presenting themselves to national team head coach Ramil de Jesus. They soon took part in warm-ups and drills, before participating in an entertaining two-set scrimmage.

“Medyo nakakahiya,” Valdez said of her tardiness. “It’s the national team tryout, so time talaga is the sign of discipline. Being here, ‘yun talaga. Siyempre, kami as professional volleyball players, dapat andoon din ‘yung sense of time.”

“Hindi rin natin masasabi talaga, traffic,” added the former Ateneo star. “Hopefully, sa next few trainings, sana maka-commit din kami sa time namin.”

Her tardiness aside, Valdez was all smiles at the tryout, especially during the scrimmage wherein she found herself on the same team as former La Salle rival Ara Galang, longtime friend Kim Fajardo, and current La Salle stars Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili.

She also had the chance to play with some volleyball stars from the Philippine Superliga, such as Sta. Lucia’s MJ Phillips and Rebecca Rivera.

“Sobrang nakaka-excite,” said Valdez, who steered the Ateneo Lady Eagles to five straight UAAP finals appearances from Seasons 74 to 78, all against La Salle.

“Ang isa lang namin talagang wish is maging complete kami, at magkaroon kami ng time na mas mahaba ang preparation namin, para mas maganda at mas solid naming i-represent ‘yung country natin,” she said.

Friday’s tryout was set up with the upcoming Asian Games in mind, but it will likely be the beginning of a long-term program that also includes the Southeast Asian Games next year.

If Valdez makes it to the final lineup, it will be the third time that she will represent the country in the SEA Games — a prospect that clearly delights the former three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player.

“Pressured and excited, kasi we’ll host the SEA Games next year,” said Valdez, who was one of the top stars of the squad that competed in Kuala Lumpur last year.

“Siguro, two consecutive times playing in the SEA Games, we’re always there all the time, pero we can’t get medals,” she added. “Hopefully ngayon, pine-pressure din namin ‘yung sarili namin to push ourselves pa, para ‘di lang ‘almost’ ang masasabi natin at the end of the tournament.”

“Sana, hopefully, mahaba ‘yung preparation lang, at makapag-handa tayo para all out lang hanggang sa 2019.”

Valdez wants to commit her full time and effort to the national team, even as she also expressed hope that Friday’s tryout will signal the start of a truly consistent women’s volleyball program in the country.

“Sana, tuloy-tuloy na ‘yung program ng national team,” Valdez said. “Sana, mas marami pa tayong madalang players at atong tutulong sa atin, para mas mapalawak pa natin at mapalaki pa ang sport ng volleyball.”

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