“Alyssa Valdez from the backrow!”

“Alyssa Valdez down the line!”

“Alyssa Valdez off-the-block!”

“Alyssa Valdez finds the spot!”

“Dropball by Alyssa Valdez”

“Service Ace by Alyssa Valdez!”

“Alyssaaaaaaaaaa Valdeeeeeeez!”

A name in the history of Ateneo de Manila University. A name in the history of Philippine Sports. A name who changed the name of volleyball, not just here in the country, but in the whole world. Yes, that name is Alyssa Valdez.

Five great years. We couldn’t ask for more. Her era was the golden years of Philippine Volleyball, the golden years of Ateneo.

From her sharp serves in the service line, up to those killing spikes. From her indescribable face as she flies, up to her never-ending smiles. Surely, this girl is the limelight.

She is Alyssa Valdez. The Queen Eagle. The Face of Philippine Volleyball. The Phenom. Yet, with hundreds of individual trophies gracing their household, never did she speak about her enormity. She flies in the highest altitude, but she kept her feet on the ground. Heart of a champion, it is.

Started at the bottom, now she’s here. She fell down for God-knows-how-many-times. She shed buckets of tears. She lost so many games. But no matter how beaten her body was, her heart remained strong. She was once the weakest, once the youngest, was once a bench warmer. But those circumstances did not pull her down. Rather, all the unwanted losses and painful experiences prepared her in facing all the foes she’s about to encounter. Minor setbacks, for major comebacks.

Point by point, game by game, season by season, year by year, she grew. She played hard, and trained harder. Inch by inch, she’s starting to reach what she has been working hard for. She became the greatest she can ever be. Ladies and gentlemen,

The phenomenal spiker.

The best server.

The highest scorer.

The Lazaro-like digger.

The setter.

The blocker.

The back liner.

The Beast.

Everyone’s nightmare on the wing.

All hail, the Queen- Alyssa Valdez.

 

But just like the reality of life, even the best fall down sometimes. The odds weren’t always in her favor. Sharp knives were thrown on her. She was stabbed for countless times. She received hurtful gifts all the time. Because even the best fall down sometimes. Even her personal life, her actions, the way she speaks, she acts, the way she looks- she was judged. Every time. All the time. We can’t please everyone, and Alyssa is no exception. As she rises, bashers were trying and doing their best to see her fall. Millions of words were directed unto her. But the best thing about this girl? Never did she plant any hatred against anyone. Never did she let other people’s judgments affect her and bring her down. Instead, she used these as turning points to do more and be more.

 

So here’s for Ateneo’s Queen Eagle. The captain who encourages her teammates to give their all every game. The captain who managed to smile in the midst of everyone’s tears. The captain who assures the team that everything is going to be alright. The captain who motivates and believes that they can. The captain who lifts the team up, when they feel like falling. The captain who flies in when her teammates were down in bended knees. The captain who continues to fight until the end.

“Kahit mahirap, kahit nakakapagod, kahit anong meron, diba lalaban ka lang…” A teary-eyed Alyssa Valdez made the whole blue squad feel sad, hurt and sorrowful. It is very unusual to see an always-smiling-Alyssa to be in tears. It is very rare to see tears go down her face. That was during the UAAP Season 78 Finals Game 2 against their archrival, De La Salle Lady Spikers, wherein they won in five thrilling sets. Everyone thought that it was already the Phenom’s last dance. But tables were turned, and the girls with the strongest hearts stood out. We were so proud. So proud to have the eagles’ back. So proud to support them. So proud that we are one of the community that shouts “Go Ateneo, One Big Fight!”

Everything comes to an end. Even her UAAP greatness came to an end. She closed her collegiate career with a bang. But it is undeniable that Alyssa deserves a better last flight. Nevertheless, I think she doesn’t need more than what she had. Because it was an exploding #PhenomOut for Valdez. Alyssa, together with the Lady Eagles were the happiest silver medalists ever seen.

Thank you for the five great years, Ly.

Thank you for those serves, spikes, back row attacks, blocks, and digs you showed us.

Thank you for the smiles, laughter, and tears you shared with us.

Thank you for making us believe that nothing can ever beat a person with a strong heart.

Thank you for the touching speeches.

Thank you for dedicating your MVP trophies to the volleyball community.

Thank you for motivating us to stand up if we’re down.

Thank you for regarding us your fans, as your family.

You deserve all of those countless blessings.

UAAP will never be the same without you. You are one of the best things which happened in Philippine volleyball. You are one of Ateneo’s superstars, one of those who gave so much honor and pride to the school and the country.

 

So go, Alyssa. Walk, run, chase your dreams. We will always be here. We got your back, all the time. We’ll support you in every path you ought to take, in every decision you choose to make. Your happiness is ours too. Your success and loss, are ours too.

It maybe is #PhenomOut for UAAP, but it will always be #PhenomIn for the rest of the world to see.

  • Valdez knows.

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