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Former allies excited to go up against Valdez

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by September 27, 2016 General

We know her tendencies when she hits the ball and we know her weaknesses as well — Denden Lazaro on former teammate Alyssa Valdez

“Alyssa humanda ka!”

This is the seemingly serious challenge of BaliPure’ Ella de Jesus to former teammate Alyssa Valdez.

Then the ex-Ateneo de Manila star smiled before blurting out a loud laugh.

“Hindi, joke lang!” she said.

The Open Conference third place winner Water Defenders parted ways with their biggest draw in three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Valdez, who is now playing for the newcomers, the Bureau of Customs Transformers.

Valdez declined in a prior interview to divulge the reason why she left BaliPure, which is composed mostly of former Lady Eagles.

It will be the first time that Valdez will go up against her college teammates.

The marque showdown is on October 12.

Libero Denden Lazaro, which helped the Valdez annex two UAAP titles in Season 76 and 77, said that the “Phenom” is a big loss on their team but at the same time she’s excited to test if she can man the floor with Valdez smashing an attack on the other side of the net.     

“Siyempre very different kasi we’ve been playing together for five or six years,” said Lazaro, who also played with Valdez in the national team that participated in the 28th Singapore Southeast Asian Games last year.

Knowing Valdez’s playing style according to Lazaro can work as an advantage for the Water Defenders.

“Malaking kawalan si Alyssa but now kalaban namin siya at least we know how she plays and we know her tendencies when she hits the ball,” she added. “And we know her weaknesses as well. So I think we can take that to our advantage. But we can’t and nobody can underestimate her.”

Middle blocker Mae Tajima for her part said that it will be a good and healthy competition.

“It’s my first time to play against her but for sure it’s always gonna be a happy game with her,” said the 5-foot-10 Tajima. “For sure maghahawaan lang kami ng good vibes and just play the game. We’ll just play for our teams, she’s for Customs and we’re BaliPure. It’s also very competitive but also a happy one and sister-like game.”

Bittersweet feeling, good challenge

For more half a decade Valdez terrorized Ateneo’s opponents in the UAAP with her slicing attacks.

De Jesus and Lazaro played the most important role for the Lady Eagles with their excellent floor defense that made it easier for setter Jia Morado to toss perfect assists for Valdez to hammer down.

This time it will be De Jesus and Lazaro on the receiving end of Valdez’s booming attacks. The duo graduated after the Lady Eagles’ second title.   

“First time ko siyang makakalaban since college. Hindi ko alam kung excited ako eh,” said de Jesus. “Well, siyempre nakakapanibagong feeling ‘yun.”

“But then medyo sad siya. If I think about it kasi magkakasama kaming lahat so ‘yun nga first time naming mahihiwalay sa kanya,” she added. “But then siguro excited din kami kasi gusto rin naming maramdaman kung paano ba kalabanin ang isang Alyssa Valdez.”

Lazaro joked that they already talked with Valdez to go easy against her former teammates.

“Actually nag-usap na kami na huwag niya kaming pahirapan. Hahaha!” the charming defense specialist said. “Pero actually isa siyang challenge.”

Both players said that they already felt the power of Valdez before when they were in training. It’s just a matter of adjusting to it when it comes to real competition.  

“Pero kasi kahit naman sa training kapag may scrimmage tapos makakalaban namin siya, kapag re-receive-in namin ang palo niya, ang lakas talaga di ba?” said De Jesus. “Tapos tatawa lang naman kami. So feeling ko ganoon din kapag competition na.”

And De Jesus knows how to get Valdez out of her game. 

“Parang training din na kapag malakas ang palo niya, iniinis pa namin siya na, “Grabe ang lakas mo talaga! Ganun,”” she said. “So feeling ko ganoon lang. I-enjoy lang namin.”   

Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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