When Jasmine Nabor blocked Alyssa Valdez’s attempt to give BaliPure a 14-13 advantage in the fifth set of Game 2 of their PVL semis clash, you can easily feel the anxiety inside the PhilSports Arena.
Creamline was on the verge of elimination in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at that time, while BaliPure was a point away from making the franchise’s first-ever Finals appearance. BaliPure’s supporters screamed in anticipation of a massive upset while the other half of the pack are holding their breath.
Five sequences before that, the Cool Smashers were comfortably ahead, 13-10 before a late BaliPure rally stunned the Creamline fans.
Valdez being Valdez though, did not lose composure.
After Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin leveled the game at 14-all, the “Phenom’ redeemed herself with a check ball hit, then Valdez and Pau Soriano shut the wall against BaliPure American import Jennifer Keddy in what can be considered as one of the wildest endings this conference.
Needless to say, the arena exploded in delight.
Valdez though ignored the noise, for while majority of the fans inside the building had an adrenaline rush, the former UAAP volleyball star chose to be quiet for the moment. And while other players crumbled in the face of pressure, Valdez remained steady.
“Hindi ko talaga naririnig [‘yung ingay], ‘yung nakikita ko talaga, ‘yung teammates and coaches ko,” Valdez told FOX Sports, following Creamline’s 5-set win.
“Pag mga ganung moments, pag ganun na tight talaga yung match. As a player, ikaw yung gusto mo lang yung nakikita mo yung bola, kung saan pumupunta. I think that’s one way of saying na nasa focus ka talaga sa game.”
Athletes and coaches endlessly say how a game is not over until the final buzzer or whistle. But to actually live that inside the court takes a lot of heart.
“Hanggang hindi pa nagsi-16, 15 or 25, hindi pa rin naman tapos yung ball game. Ayun lang naman yung iniisip namin, yung momentum nasa amin din so we really have to fight harder and tougher and be brave and be confident na alam namin sa sarili namin na kakayanin.”
Valdez admitted there were doubts entering the PVL under a new club. The two-time UAAP MVP has yet to find a permanent home after completing her duties with Ateneo.
She also has not won a title after turning pro and a championship with the Cool Smashers can jumpstart a culture with her new team.
“Entering the conference, merong doubt kasi kami yung bago, underdog talaga, new team, wala kami sa core na team, syempre nagda-doubt kami sa ipe-perform, every day nagte-training kami, we play our best every game, we can’t be contended sa mga ganun.”
“The work is not yet done, we have to prepare for Game 3,” she finished.
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