Ateneo for championship point. *toogsh toogsh** “Ateneo.. back to Valdez. Valdez..” Alyssa leaped high like an eagle out there. *TOOGSH! TOOGSH!*
And in a few seconds, she hit and slammed the ball down there and Boom Gonzales was like: “AND THAT’S IT! ATENEO HAS DONE IT! THEY MADE HISTORY!”
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!
*Clears throat*: HAIL the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament CHAMPIONS: THE ATENEO LADY EAGLES!!
YES. I’ve always wanted to say that, and it just feels oh-so-good to finally being able to say that again and again!
RELIVE THE CHAMPIONSHIP POINT.
Warning though, this post has lots of pictures.. if the pictures don’t bring out some emotions from you guys.. then I seriously don’t know what else will.
At the start of the season, I’ve always said I have no high expectations for the team this year, not even a Final Four appearance, let alone a Championship title. With the exit of perhaps the most celebrated volleybelles in Philippine volleyball history, the Fab 5, (see my blog post last year: Farewell and thank you Atene’s Fab Five, which is the most-read post in this blog with a whopping 4,888 views as of this writing) in the persons of Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Gretchen Ho, A Nacachi, Jem Ferrer and Dzi Gervacio, the team will definitely have a hard time this season. Add to that, coach Roger Gorayeb also resigned as head coach to concentrate on his San Sebastian coaching duties for NCAA. And truth be told, I said DLSU will definitely be a hard team to beat and most probably will still end up as this year’s champs given their thrice-to-beat advantage resulting from a 14-0 sweep in the elimination round, something they did back in season 74.
FAIRY TALE ENDING
Ateneo finished the elimination round with a 10-4 win-loss card.. And this is such a feat. PERIOD. Why? I think I sound like a broken record already for saying this again and again, but for a young, rebuilding and rookie-laden Ateneo squad, who would have thought they would reach this far? Enthusiasm of rookie Michelle Morente, undeniable setting prowess of Jia Morado at such a young age, high leaping skills of Ella De Jesus, volleyball IQ of Amy Ahomiro, superb floor defense of libero Denden Lazaro capped by the OVERALL SKILLS OF THE QUEEN LADY EAGLE ALYSSA VALDEZ and of course, the undying support of their teammates and coach staff and the entire community — contributed to their journey from the third spot in the eliminations round to bagging the Championship title this year.
Imagine what they had to go through? They had to face great floor defenders Adamson Lady Falcons for a knock-out match, had to defeat twice the NU Lady Bulldogs with a twice-to-beat advantage.. and finally, battle their hears out with the three-time defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers! Who said fairy tales don’t exist? Well, at least in love, Patrik. Charot. *winks*
ALYSSA VALDEZ – A LEGEND IN THE MAKING?
I have already used a thousand superlatives to describe Alyssa. But just when I thought I’m running out of words to describe her, hey.. brace yourselves as she’s awarded the following recognitions as UAAP season 76’s:
- BEST SCORER
- BEST SERVER
- LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (MVP)
And just when you thought she bagged all the awards already, no, we’re not done just yet.. as she was hailed FINALS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER!! 🙂
Add to that, it’s official: Alyssa Valdez is the lone UAAP player to date, to have bagged BOTH awards — LEAGUE MVP AND FINALS MVP ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
AND NOOO, I’M STILL NOT YET DONE: Add to her swelling portfolio of awards: SHE IS THE ONLY PLAYER WHO WON FOUR MAJOR AWARDS IN JUST A SINGLE UAAP SEASON! BEAT THAT!
The awards clearly solidified her stature as the country’s most important volleybelle to date and she has been making waves in mainstream media already. So my previous article Alyssa Valdez and her rise to stardom was clearly an understatement. It should have been “Alyssa Valdez and her rise to SUPERSTARdom. *If there’s such a word*
SEASON 76 – THE END OF DYNASTIES
It gives me creeps every time people say this, but is actually true in every sense of it. In season 76, UP’s domination in the Cheerdance Competition collapsed with the sudden rise of the NU pep squad. In addition, six peat seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles was also halted this year. Also, for a time, people thought De La Salle University Lady Spikers are invincible with the kind of play and athleticism they’re showing. But hey, their four-peat bid ended with the Lady Eagles overpowering them yesterday.
AN OPEN MESSAGE TO ABY MARANO
I think more than anyone, Aby’s thirst for a championship is unparalleled. It’s her last and final playing year for the Lady Spikers, and what better way to graduate than to leave a championship title to your Alma Mater and march away with a victorious smile. But as they always say, life is unpredictable.. and so is the Mikasa ball. 🙂 It pains me to see you cry during the latter part of the game. In fact, at 10-18 in the third set huddle, I think I see you trying your best to smile in front of your teammates. That to me was remarkable, a great and tough leader who does not stop especially when the going gets tough. It is something new athletes should learn.
Aby, I was never a fan of you before, nor was I a hater. Your angst inside the court accompanied by great talent only shows your determination to win the game and dedication to your school and playing the game you love. Of course, who plays a game to lose? My Twitter friends might react, but today, I declare: I am officially a fan of one Aby Marano.
Heads up captain! Nothing to be ashamed of! It’s the end of your collegiate career, but it’s just the start of the professional one. I sincerely hope and pray you continue playing the game. The Philippine team sorely needs your skills and leadership! One day, the Philippines will be back in Asian, if not world volleyball arena, with you in the team. And as a final message, this: I WILL DEFINITELY MISS YOUR HAIRCLIPS!!
NUMBER 2 JERSEY TO BE RETIRED?
Alyssa Valdez still has two more playing years up her sleeves. But as of this early, fans have been saying (and I’m not arguing), Alyssa’s number two jersey should be retired. And I couldn’t agree more. She has brought Ateneo to another stage in Philippine volleyball arena. Retiring her jersey symbolizes her great contribution to the whole Ateneo community.
LESSON FROM COACH TAI
“If you believe you will win, you will win” I think this is, by far, the greatest lesson everyone can learn from coach Tai. Not to discredit former coach Roger Gorayeb for he has brought Ateneo to tremenedous feat as well in the previous years. but coach Tai’s persuation and faith defnitely paved the way for the ladies’ determination to win. But I was deeply saddened earlier upon reading tweets that the game yesterday might be coach Tai’s last game for the Lady Eagles. His contract with Ateneo is only for five months which already ended. Reports say that coach Tai is back in Bangkok to attend to his duties there as Thailand Junior Women’s National Team head coach. For what it’s worth, I would still love to see coach Tai in the bench alongside the ladies, him still doing his signature victory dance moves in the sidelines. Coach Tai, you are a story on your own! Congratulations!!
OFFICIAL MESSAGE FROM THE ATENEO LADY EAGLES TWITTER PAGE:
To everyone asking, here is the link of the TV Patrol segment of Marc Logan featuring the ever-lovable coach Tai and the Lady Eagles!
ALYSSA VALDEZ AND LIZ GOHING DANCING
It’s one hell of a season once again volleyball-landia, and I can’t wait for Season 77 to start with the entry of new set of blue-chip rookies, the more experienced youngsters and spikefest showdown of the veterans! Yes, it’s still almost eight months left before season 77 kicks off, but don’t fret, as we will still be seeing volleyball action from the ladies in the upcoming Shakey’s VLeague Season XI Collegiate League which starts next week, March 23!
See you all at the San Juan Arena!! 🙂