Its so nice to be with this girls na sobrang in their own teams sila ang nagdadala sa teams nila — Alyssa Valdez
Local star Alyssa Valdez is excited to don the national colors together with former collegiate and club rivals including team captain Mika Reyes for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August.
The multi-time national team member and Ateneo de Manila product will get a chance to play with Reyes, a former De La Salle University standout, for the first time since their volleyball careers.
For five straight years, the two led their respective schools to epic Finals battles with Reyes winning three and Valdez claiming two.
Aside from Reyes, the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player will also be playing alongside collegiate rival Gen Casugod of Far Eastern University and club league rival Ces Molina.
“Oo nga eh (first time kong maging teammate si Mika),” said Valdez Friday after the national team’s first practice session at the Arellano University gym.
“Pero hindi lang naman (si Mika), madami din na first time sina Gen, si Molina, madami talaga so I’m really excited,” added Valdez, who was given the honor as the country’s flagbearer in the traditional parade of colors during the Singapore SEA Games two years ago.
The PHI team wound up at fifth place in the 2015 edition of the biennial meet in the country’s first volleyball participation in the regional sportsfest after a long hiatus since 2005.
“It’s so nice to be with this girls na sobrang in their own teams sila ang nagdadala sa teams nila,” Valdez said. “So I’m really hoping na ma-complement namin ang bawat isa para mas maganda and resulta namin sa SEA Games.”
Valdez’s national team stint also served as a reunion of the 2015 team, with returnees Jaja Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Denden Lazaro, Aby Marano, Rhea Dimaculangan and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, who was a reserve player and a part of then coaching staff in Singapore.
The San Juan, Batangas native will also get to play once again with former University of Sto. Tomas high school teammate Kim Fajardo under head coach Francis Vicente and assistant coaches Brian Esquibel, Ian Fernandez, Ronald Dulay, Manny Calipes and Nene Ybanez-Chavez, member of the last PHI team that won a women’s volleyball gold medal in the SEA Games back in 1993.
“It’s a really new team din naman kahit sabihin mong may mga luma,” said Valdez. “It’s a really new perspective, new coaching staff, everything is really new. So we’re just really hoping na sana maging maganda ang chemistry and pagsasama. I think more than the trainings here sa Philippines na tight and schedule ng teams but we’re very happy na mapayagan kami ng mga club teams namin para magsama-sama kahit sa konting oras.”
The training sessions of the national team is scheduled every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon after the men’s squad practice, which starts from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. daily.
The Pinay spikers will also have a training camp in Japan and China from July 18 to August 3 before participating in the Asian tilt to be held in the Philippines from August 9 to 17. This will serve as their last preparation for the SEA Games that will run from August 19 to 31.
“We’re really looking forward (for trainings abroad) to gain experiences before we go to represent the country for the SEA Games,” she said.
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