Alyssa Valdez and Kalei Mau
Valdez excited to lead Philippine team with Mau, Laure
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Volleyball star Alyssa Valdez expressed excitement to join forces with SEA Games debutant Kalei Mau and the rest of Team Philippines as they aim to snap a 14-year podium drought in the biennial meet on home ground.

“I’m really blessed to be around veteran players who have been with me since (the) 2015 (SEAG) and now we have added firepower so I think we can give a lot more,” Valdez said a day after the women’s volleyball team roster was announced.

“Hopefully in this SEA Games, with preparation, we can achieve chemistry and come through with a good performance,” she added.

Jia Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Majoy Baron, Mylene Paat, Eya Laure, Dawn Macandili, Maddie Madayag, Ces Molina, Kath Arado and Aby Maraño, Rhea Dimaculangan and Mika Reyes also make the pool.

Meanwhile, Marck Espejo will lead the men’s squad that also includes Bryan Bagunas, Johnvic de Guzman, Mark Alfafara, Joshua Umandal, Ran Abdilla, Ish Polvorosa, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Rex Intal, Ricky Marcos and Jack Kalingking.

Two-time SEAG campaigner Valdez is particularly excited to play with the explosive Mau, who just recently gained eligibility to wear the Philippine colors in the SEAG.

“Kalei Mau is really a fighter, a brave girl. Who wouldn’t want to have Kalei Mau in your team? From net defense, to floor defense, everything, she’s all-around. So I’m just really looking forward to be teammate with her, to play with her and really support her. Other teams are scouting her so we will help her unravel her full potential and enjoy her first experience with the national team,” said Valdez.

The 26-year-old Valdez also has high hopes for Laure, the youngest in Shaq delos Santos’ pool.

“She plays like a veteran and she brings in a lot of energy that rubs off on veterans like us,” she said of the UST winger.

Valdez currently faces ankle issues but stressed she’d be good to go come the SEA Games.

Out were Alohi Hardy-Robins, who was cut minus a Philippine passport, and the young and talented PLDT duo of Grethcel Soltones and Jasmine Nabor, who answered the call to play in the second leg of the Grand Prix.

Jaja Santiago, who would have made the team if available, was not allowed by her Japanese club team to join the SEAG campaign. Joey Villar

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