Worth the wait: Alyssa Valdez saves Bali Pure in first game back

Bali Pure averted disaster with solid performances in the last 2 sets to defeat UP in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference Monday night at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Only in her first game in the tournament, Alyssa Valdez unleashed 26 points off 23 hits, including the match-clinching kill and 3 aces, as the Purest Water Defenders staved off a tough challenge by the tough Lady Maroons side.

The 3-time UAAP MVP, who missed her team’s first few games because of a trip to Europe, showed no signs of rust, but admitted it was hard to get going as the Diliman squad came prepared.

Nonetheless, Valdez said her chemistry with her Bali Pure teammates proved to be crucial, especially when they rallied in the fourth and fifth frames.

“It’s really important yung pinagsamahan ng isa’t-isa inside the court,” she said of playing with some ex-Ateneo Lady Eagles. “I’m really happy to be teammates with my former coach.”

Grethcel Soltones added 15 points and 19 digs while Dzi Gervacio and playing coach Charo Soriano each posted 5 markers while providing maturity and energy in crunch time.

The Purest Water Defenders, however, would have to better in their next few games, as they had 35 unforced errors and allowed their foes to score 14 points off offensive blocks.

Valdez credited UP — the team she eliminated in the UAAP Season 78 Final Four — for putting up a gallant stand even after the loss of erstwhile starting setter Jewel Lai.

“Iba talaga yung loss ng setter, but sobrang galing nila. Nag-adjust din sila talaga,” she said. “They had good floor defense. Makikita mo na sobrang gusto nila lumaban.”

That was the case in the fifth set, when Bali Pure buried the Lady Maroons in a 14-7 hole, only to see them charge back and make it 14-12.

Valdez believes games like this will help the wards of coach Jerry Yee in the long run.

“Madami silang makukunag experience sa V-League na madadala sa mga liga nila in the future,” she added. “I’m looking forward to watching their game sa UAAP.” — By Josiah Albelda