If BaliPure harbored any ill feeling toward Alyssa Valdez’s decision to play for another team, it hardly showed any effort to hide it Wednesday night.
The Purest Water Defenders held their former power-hitting star to just 16 hits as they bounced back from a stinging four-set defeat to the UST Tigresses by grounding Valdez and the Customs Transformers, 26-24, 25-21, 25-21, in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
“We really prepared for her (Valdez) mainly because we know her attacks are really incredible. We worked on our defense and our counterattack more,” said BaliPure Charo Soriano.
Valdez actually came into the BaliPure match oozing with confidence coming off a league-best 39-hit effort in an 18-25, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 victory over the Laoag Power Smashers last week.
The Transformers also came into the game in full force with Thai reinforcements Kanjana Kuthaisong and Natthanicha Jaisaen finally securing their clearance to play and Pau Soriano and Lilet Mabbayad re-suiting up not to mention their back-to-back victories over UP and Laoag.
Sure, Amy Ahomiro had said Valdez will forever be their teammate and nothing will change as far as their friendship is concerned. But the Purest Water Defenders had other things in mind.
“We were telling ourselves that if we could stop Alyssa, it’s going to be easier for us (to get the win), although we still have to work hard as a team,” said Soriano.
Unlike in their 25-21, 21-25, 23-25, 13-25 defeat to the Tigresses, the Water Defenders, according to Soriano, played with cohesion and in unison against the Transformers.
“We’re more solid as a team now. We were really working on our defense and our counterattacks. Against the Tigresses, we were a bit scrappy, but it’s understandable because it’s our first game,” she said.
It also helped that Thai coach Tai Bundit showed up after undergoing an eye check-up back in Thailand, steering the team to victory despite some hitch in communication.
“Coach Tai also helped a lot, instructing us where to be, reminding us what to do,” said Soriano.
Kaylee Manns, BaliPure’s American setter, said the team is starting to come together.
“After our first game, we talked and we said, that’s not us. I think we overlooked UST, defense-wise, we were better. It was a lot, lot better than the last time. It was a good team effort, not one person,” said Manns, who produced 34 excellent sets and finished with four points.
Katherine Morrell led BaliPure with 17 points while the crisp-hitting Dzi Gervacio and Ahomiro added 10 hits apiece and the rest backed them up with superb court coverage, reception and net defense.