Much tougher matchups seen in PVL semifinals

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 03, 2017 03:03 PM
Much tougher matchups seen in PVL semifinals
Their local counterparts led by Alyssa Valdez and Pau Soriano, among others, are making it easier for Creamline imports Laura Schaudt (No. 11) and Kuttika Kaewpin (No. 16) to carry the Cool Smashers in their PVL campaign.

Coaches and players alike foresee much more exciting games in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference starting today, June 3, ensuring a thunderous finish for the groundbreaking Sports Vision-organized tournament touted as the next big hit in Philippine volleyball.   

All coaches through to the semifinal playoffs agree that the four teams that survived the grueling two-round eliminations and the edge-of-the-seat quarterfinals –  Balipure, the Power Smashers,  Pocari Sweat, and Creamline ranked in that order -- are so evenly matched that no one team could claim a slight advantage over the other.     

The Water Defenders of coach Roger Gorayeb clash with the Cool Smashers in one playoff and the Power Smashers against the Lady Warriors in the other.   

It will all boil down to, according to Power Smashers coach Nes Pamilar, how well the locals will support the imports and how well the latter have adapted by now to the systems of their respective mentors.     

“If the level of competition during the quarterfinals was this hard,” said Cool Smasher Alyssa Valdez, referring to the four of six matches in the quarters resulting in five sets, “I expect the semifinals to be much more intense. For our part, we will train harder and listen to coach Tai (Bundit) more to get to the finals. That’s all we have to do.”

In the eye of Creamline assistant coach Oliver Almadro, who had a double celebration when his Cignal Tv HD Spikers advanced as well to the semifinals in the men’s division, every playing day henceforth will be a do-or-die game.    

“All teams (in the women’s division) are even now,” said Almadro, architect of the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ exceptionally remarkable three successive title triumphs in the UAAP all at the expense of the National University Bulldogs. “Every game will test the heart and character of the players; every game will go the way of the team with the bigger heart and the stronger fortitude.

Pocari coach Rommel Abella could hardly look beyond what he said was the fantastic game the Lady Warriors played Thursday in their masterful, three-set domination of Perlas Spikers that gave them a spotless 3-0 win-loss card in the quarterfinals ahead of Creamline’s 2-1 record. 

“I won’t ask for more if only the girls would bring that same incredible cohesiveness over to the semifinals,” said Abella, his face glowing with pride for the Lady Warriors. He reserved the highest praises for import Michelle Strizak and her 17-point effort, Cai Nepomuceno (12), the steady and accurate Myla Pablo (8), and the intelligence of setter Gyzelle Sy.

“The pairings in the semifinals will be very, very tough,” he added as he made his way to the locker.


Flowers for the superstar     

For the second straight time, Valdez, whose legion of fiercely loyal followers would rather see her uninjured in defeat rather than hurt in victory, rose to the occasion by repeatedly digging the Cool Smashers out of the hole, scoring 19 points in their third straight conquest of the Lady Jet Spikers in the PVL Reinforced Conference which has Sports Vision working hand in hand with Asics as its official league partner and Mikasa as its official game ball.

She could not be bothered by persistent talks about her supposed marked slide in her game. A bunch of flowers from her highly organized fans awaited her outside the Cool Smashers’ locker, where their raucous celebration of their 24-16, 26-24, 25-17 walloping of the Lady Jet Spikers and guaranteed advance to the semis spilled over from the court, interrupted only by a text message from Creamline joint owner Jonathan Ng.    

“Listen up,” she called her teammates’ attention. “Mr. Jonathan is congratulating us and I quote: ‘Great game, guys. Mas maganda pala kapag wala ako.’   

The victors in pink roared in good-natured laughter at Ng’s reference to the few games he missed during the eliminations and the quarterfinals which the Cool Smashers lost.

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