Two Years No Gold: Can Alyssa win it for Creamline this time?

A name like Alyssa Valdez is almost synonymous to awards and championships.

From her high school years with UST to her colorful collegiate stint with Ateneo to her professional career with various clubs, the three-time UAAP MVP has time and time again proved that she is arguably the best outside hitter of the country to date.

The 24-year old spiker still collects MVP accolades two years after her UAAP career ended.

Valdez was also part of the national team which saw action in 2017 Asia Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Manila and 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.

She served as an import to clubs 3BB Nakornnot from Thailand and Attack Line from Chinese Taipei – a momentous milestone for the Philippine volleyball.

There was something missing, though, amidst her long line of achievements for the past two years.

Something that will finalize her glittery post-collegiate career.

Something that volleyball players treasure the most.

Something she last held in 2015.

TWO YEARS OF SILVER AND BRONZES

The last time Valdez clutched a gold trophy was in December 6, 2015 when she and PLDT Ultra Fast Hitters ousted Philippine Army Lady Troopers in the Finals of the then Shakey’s V-league Season 12 Reinforced Conference.

Valdez hasn’t won a championship title since then.

The outside hitter suit up for BaliPure Purest Water Defenders, a team mostly composed of Ateneo alums, in SVL Season 13 Open Conference.

The rookie squad behind the scoring prowess of Gretchel Soltones and Valdez, who missed some games, made it to the semifinals where they clashed with the Myla Pablo-led Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors.

Despite winning the first game in straight sets, BaliPure went on to lose the next two games of the best-of-three semifinals and settled for bronze after defeating Laoag Power Smashers in the match for third place.

For the import-flavored conference of the same season, Valdez transferred to Bureau of Customs Transformers where she played alongside Thai reinforcements Kanjana Kuthaisong and Natthanicha Jaisen.

The squad made a dramatic return to the Finals after edging her former team, BaliPure, in the semifinals.

Valdez, who was hailed MVP of the conference, was yet again short of a title after bowing to Pocari in the Finals.

Valdez reunited with fellow Ateneo stalwart Jia Morado and combined with imports Laura Schaudt and Kuttika Kaewpin for the inaugural season of Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference in 2017.

Touting with international experience from her short stint in Thailand, Valdez was tipped to lead Creamline Cool Smashers to its first title on its debut in the league.

But it was not meant to be.

Creamline finished eliminations at the bottom half, survived the quarterfinals, and and eventually lost the Finals berth to BaliPure in the semis.

Valdez and Creamline tried to capture the elusive gold medal in the Open Conference of the same season.

The squad breezed through the eliminations, winning all of their seven matches to finish in top.

Come semifinals, though, they were again dismantled by BaliPure despite their impressive headstart.

Valdez settled for bronze medal as consolation for two consecutive conferences.

It was as if the universe is conspiring against her.

ANOTHER TRY FOR GOLD

An all new, action-packed PVL Reinforced Conference featuring eight capable teams who will vie for the title opens anew on May 6.

Among the early favorites to win the title is Creamline, which made sure to reload its arsenal for the import-laden conference.

The multi-awarded spiker will still be the backbone of the squad,  together with mainstays Morado, Pau Soriano, Rizza Mandapat, Alex Cabaño, Colleen Bravo, Jema Galanza, and Ivy Remulla.

Risa Sato, one of the NU Lady Bulldogs’ 1-2 punch in the middle, suited up for Creamline after playing for BaliPure last year.

Former Lady Spikers Michele Gumabao and Mel Gohing will be playing with Valdez, but this time on the same side of the net as they joined the pink-and-white camp.

Further strengthening the bid are foreign reinforcements Serbian middle blocker Nicola Asceric and outside hitter Kuttika Kaewpin, who returns for another tour of duty.

Tai Bundit, architect of Ateneo’s successful UAAP season 76 and 77 titles, will serve as the squad’s tactician.

With their roster fully racked up with seasoned, promising spikers and award-winning coaching staff, this is the perfect time for Valdez to win a championship after two years of falling short.

Now more than ever, the odds are in their favor.

But the question is: can they do it?

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