One of today’s biggest volleyball stars in the country, Alyssa Valdez of the Ateneo Lady Eagles also has become one of the most popular athletes off the court – particularly in social media. Her name immediately comes to mind whenever people talk about Philippine volleyball, and it’s really not surprising why especially if you get the chance to watch her in action. In games, she’s always performing at a high level where her focus, aggressiveness, and versatility are in full display. Outside the playing field, you’ll find that she’s a charming person whom you cant help but smile with. She’s a true star, and under the bright lights playing the game she grew passionate about is where she belongs – a game she originally had no interest in.
“That’s what is really ironic,” said Valdez. “That I’m a volleyball player who don’t know much about the sport.”
Raised in San Juan, Batangas, Valdez is the only girl among the 4 children of Ruel and Pablita. At the age of 10, she started playing volleyball with her older brothers. Without the thought of taking the sport professionally, her coaches who saw her potential continued to help her develop her fundamentals – the rest is history.
“When I was in elementary, I had coaches who continued to encourage me even if it seemed unlikely for me to become a volleyball player,” Valdez said. “That’s where you would get the confidence to play volleyball.”
With her skills improved, Valdez competed at the Southern Tagalog Calabarzon Athletic Association, a regional sports tourney for elementary and high school students. It was there where Valdez was discovered and recruited to play for the UST Tigress Clubs, the high school varsity team of the Espana-based University of Santo Tomas. She emerged to become the club’s best player who led them to win three titles in the UAAP (where she was named MVP from Season 70-72) and the 2009 National Shakey’s Girs’ Volleyball League Championship (where she bagged another MVP award).
After a stellar career with the UST Tigress Clubs, Valdez enrolled as a freshman Psychology major to UAAP-rival Ateneo for college. It was during her time with Ateneo where she set her eyes on international competitions such as the Olympics and the Grand Prix. She also got to play with Ateneo’s famous Fab 5 composed of veterans Fille Cainglet, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Jem Ferrer, and A Nacachi. Playing with the more seasoned Fab 5 who Valdez recognizes as her ‘Ates’ did not overshadow her growing talent and potential. Instead, the experience fuelled her growth to become the star that she is today, raking in multiple personal accolades and leading the Ateneo Lady Eagles to back-to-back championships where she was also awarded two consecutive MVPs.
“Pressure will always be there for me to carry Ateneo,” said Valdez. “But the whole coaching staff and the community do not make me feel pressured at all because they are all out in supporting the team.”
It wasn’t long before Valdez was named to the national team and competed on the global stage. Today, volleyball in the country is on the upswing and Valdez is one of the reasons why. Also, through the efforts of the PSL in cooperation with the LVPI and various organizations, they are taking the necessary steps to elevate Philippine volleyball to the next level.
“We need to let other people see that we still need to to improve our volleyball programs,” said Valdez. “I hope — I believe — that in the near future, it won’t be far-fetched for us to become a top team.”
Valdez has certainly achieved a lot at such a young age and has enjoyed an impressive career that is far from over – one that we all wouldn’t have witnessed if it weren’t for the support of her family, her coaches, and most of all, her fans.
“Volleyball will never disappear in my life,” said Valdez. “You know, people got to know me because of volleyball, when you say ‘Alyssa Valdez’ it’s about volleyball.”