Alyssa Valdez is undoubtedly the most well-known volleyball player in the Philippines, and her rise to fame coincided with the sport’s growth.
Even if you don’t watch volleyball religiously, you surely know the name Alyssa Valdez. Going beyond her role as a national athlete, she has become a household name in the Philippines, showcasing her influence beyond the court.
Without a doubt, Alyssa Valdez is the face of Philippine volleyball. Let’s look back on how she earned this title.
From college courts
Alyssa Valdez admitted that at the beginning of her student-athlete career, volleyball did not have the big crowd it draws today. However, just as she was coming onto the collegiate scene, ABS-CBN had just started broadcasting the UAAP volleyball tournament.
Thanks to this added layer of visibility, volleyball started to see a growing number of Filipino fans around the country. And for anyone interested, even those who were new to the sport entirely, could easily spot one thing: Alyssa Valdez was good.
In her UAAP career as an Ateneo Lady Eagle, she truly stood out, even playing with a group dubbed the ‘Fab Five.’ She won many awards as a college player. In the UAAP alone, she won the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, Best Attacker, Best Scorer, and Finals MVP awards, among multiple others, and led her team to back-to-back championships.
At the time, more competitions were also being established, bringing even more attention to the sport. Playing in the Shakey’s V-League as a college athlete, she won the MVP award on multiple occasions and even became champion with Ateneo.
Her talent was undeniable, and because her rise to the top coincided with the country’s growing passion for volleyball, the name Alyssa Valdez became synonymous with the sport.
Moving her influence to the professional scene
When Alyssa Valdez hung up her Ateneo jersey, she concluded her time in the UAAP with her third MVP title. But her career was just getting started, and thankfully, this again coincided with the rise of a new stage.
In the early days of volleyball’s rise to fame among Filipino sports fans, the collegiate scene was all there really was. The Shakey’s V-League, for instance, used to be an intercollegiate league. But, given the popularity of UAAP and NCAA tournaments, it eventually evolved into what we now know as the Premier Volleyball League — a pro league for the country’s best players.
Alyssa’s vibrant career as a college player cultivated a dedicated fanbase that followed her even after she graduated from Ateneo. Thus, when she moved to the PVL, she brought with her a group deeply invested in the volleyball world, and she continued to whet their appetite with her achievements.
Playing for the Creamline Coolsmashers, Valdez won the PVL 1st and 2nd Best Outside Spiker awards in multiple conferences. And, unsurprisingly, she is a three-time PVL Most Valuable Player.
But apart from her individual achievements, she has also led her PVL team to multiple championships. She has seven conference championship titles to her name, making her one of the winningest players in Philippine volleyball.
Her influence truly showed earlier this year, when Creamline won the second 2023 PVL All-Filipino Conference, and fans could not help but put Valdez at the center of it.
It isn’t just Alyssa Valdez’s on-court talent that keeps her fans wanting more and more. She is a full-fledged celebrity in the Philippines, with 2.2 million followers on Instagram and over half a million subscribers on YouTube.
With her frequent use of her social media platforms to showcase her life outside the sport — shopping hauls, what she’s wearing, cooking videos, and travel vlogs — her solidly built community can easily engage with her even outside of her games, making her an even more lovable character. Showing all the sides of her life humanizes this “phenom”.
A contagious passion for volleyball
Being the face of the sport is about a lot more than just individual or team successes. It goes beyond talent and skill. One thing that separates Alyssa Valdez from the pack is her passion for the sport, easily readable on the smile on her face whenever she is on the court.
Whenever Alyssa’s team scores a point (and even when they lose a point), she always responds with a contagious smile that stretches from ear to ear. With this, she encourages those around her. Her lighthearted energy, even in the most heated of games, is just another X-factor that Valdez possesses, as she uses this power to put her teammates at ease while inspiring them, and you don’t need to be a member of the squad to see this for yourself.
This may even be her biggest strength. It takes more than a great player to draw tens of thousands of fans to an arena, and because her passion for volleyball is so vibrant, it makes others feel the same level of deep passion for the sport and everyone else on the court.
While Alyssa Valdez’s rise coincided with the sport’s rise in visibility and opportunities, we don’t think she became the face of the sport by some coincidence. She has made the sport entirely her own, engaging her fans, and connecting with them in such a way that makes everyone else understand why volleyball was worth becoming one of the country’s top sports.
Banner image courtesy of PVL.