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Latest award hits different for Alyssa

JUST recovered from injury, Alyssa Valdez is pleasantly surprised to have won 2nd Best Spiker award. | Photograph courtesy of PVL

Winning individual awards is nothing new for Creamline star Alyssa Valdez after accumulating quite a number of accolades in almost two decades of her colorful volleyball career.

From high school to college to the pro ranks, Valdez consistently gets recognized for her talent, hard work and unquestionable work ethic.

But being named 2nd Best Open Spiker in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference last Sunday has struck different for the grizzled veteran.

The 30-year-old Cool Smashers captain was overwhelmed with emotions after receiving her latest award as the fruit of her patience and hard work to get back to her old form after over half a year of inactivity due to a right knee injury.

“I didn’t really expect to win an award,” a teary-eyed Valdez said as she gave credit to her team for supporting her all the way.

“It was really because of my teammates, to their overwhelming support. I think I wouldn’t be able to overcome these challenges if not for them and my coaches so it’s really for everyone.”

Valdez hurt her knee during the battle for third in the 2022 Reinforced Conference last December and underwent a procedure last February that had her out of commission for months. The three-time Most Valuable Player was reduced to a mere cheerleader during Creamline’s All-Filipino Conference.

Back in her first PVL tournament after what could be her longest volleyball hiatus, Valdez regained her spot as a starter and key piece of the Cool Smashers on offense, defense, and in keeping the team together.

Valdez along with Tots Carlos and Jema Galanza formed a three-headed monster that powered the Cool Smashers back to another title run.

“I don’t have any expectation of winning an award but I’m grateful. More reasons, more inspiration to be good for the next conference but it’s really because of them that I got this,” she said as she named Galanza to be as deserving as she was in capturing the award Valdez shared with Kurashiki Ablaze ace Asaka Tamaru.

“Everyone in our team deserves it. Jema (Galanza) also played really well in this conference from offense, defense, and everything. I’ve seen her mature also so Jema deserves the Best Outside Hitter (award).”

Unfortunately, Valdez and Creamline fell short of winning the biggest award in the conference as they bowed to the Japanese guest club Ablaze after a gallant stand.

The Cool Smashers surrendered the throne after a heartbreaking, 25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 13-15, final loss to Kurashiki at the jampacked Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Valdez was limited to just six points in just three sets of action, sitting out the last two sets as she was hobbled by pain in her left knee.

“I think as an athlete it’s normal to feel pain. I just came from an injury also. It’s just unfortunate that out of all the days, but no excuses. Japan really did a good job today, everyone in our team played very well. So we’re just grateful for this opportunity. We learned a lot but again only one will emerge victorious and we want to congratulate the Japan team,” she said.

Valdez, however, allayed fears and concerns of another major injury.

“I think it’s part of the journey of being able to play again. After every injury, there will be hiccups and challenges. But on the brighter side I can still walk on my own and play,” she said.

“I just have to focus on improving and come back stronger.”

The PVL will resume action in October for its season-ending third conference.

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