A Cruz-Valdez combination for Asian Games?

How long has the Filipino volleyball aficionados been dreaming of an Alyssa Valdez-Ara Galang tandem in the international arena? Maybe ever since they set foot in the UAAP, when they were just mere rookies for Ateneo and La Salle who will later on became the face of the rivalry between the two mighty squads.

But fate has a different script as the two talented hitters went to separate paths in 2015 — the year of the rise of an Eagle and the fall of an Archer.

Valdez, a three-time UAAP MVP, went on to don the tricolors multiple times. The former Ateneo ace spiker also became the first Filipina to be tapped as reinforcement in the vaunted leagues of Thailand and Chinese Taipei.

On a sad note, a horrible knee injury erased Galang’s dream of bannering the country. The three-time UAAP champion spent the next few years recovering from the injury, and her road to regaining her old deadly form is a work in progress.

It seems that the Valdez-Galang dream combination is going to remain just like that — a dream.

But make no mistake as the Ateneo-La Salle connection might just happen in the forthcoming Asian Games.

In a training video of the Philippine national women’s volleyball team in Japan posted by Julius Manicad of Tribune, Valdez can be seen playing alongside a product of La Salle — Cha Cruz-Behag.

Of course, Valdez is already a shoo-in in one of the outside hitter slot. But for the second one, it was a toss between Cruz-Behag and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

Making a return to the national team after a two-year absence, the Foton Tornadoes skipper Santiago-Manabat is gem of a hitter who can hit from all sides of the court. With her 6-foot-3 frame, Santiago-Manabat can easily tower over the blockers.

Not to be outdone, Cruz-Behag is a do-it-all spiker who can contribute in offense and defense. Debuting for the Nationals, the F2 Logistics team captain Cruz-Behag can bring leadership and reliable passes to the table.

It was a matter of height or floor defense. Judging by the training vidoes, it looks like Nationals head coach Shaq delos Santos would prefer the latter.

For the past couple of years, Valdez has been paired with different outside hitters: with Gretchel Soltones and Rachel Ann Daquis in 2015, and with Jaja Santiago and Ces Molina in 2017.

Now, with Valdez possibly pairing up with Cruz-Behag, can the Ateneo-La Salle combination bring the country to greater heights?

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