The PVL Reinforced Conference finals: The Lady Warriors versus the Purest Water Defenders

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 10, 2017 11:01 AM
Lady Warriors, Water Defenders dispute PVL title
Pocari Sweat hopes to add another championship in its growing title collection.

Pocari  Sweat and BaliPure on Thursday did not give their opponents much of a chance in their extended semifinal playoffs to arrange a best-of-three title showdown between them that will either tighten what’s fast shaping up as the Lady Warriors’ dynastic reign in women’s volleyball or catapult the Water Defenders into their first ever championship.

Either way the maiden season of the new Premier Volleyball League, heralded as the next big hit in Philippine volleyball, is assured of an explosive finish.

The Lady Warriors are unveiling a third foreign reinforcement in American Krystal Rivers, the eleventh-hour replacement for the injured Bosnian guest player Edina Selimovic and whom Sports Vision president Ricky Palou has described as “very strong,” in the start of their championship series with the Water Defenders on Saturday, June 10, at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

In their separate semifinal playoffs, the Lady Warriors prevailed in Game 1 against the young Power Smashers, lost the second, and won the deciding third game in runaway fashion, 25-19, 25-22, 25-21.

The Water Defenders of coach Roger Gorayeb took the same route, unleashing an almost flawless display in both offense and defense that melted Creamline for good, 25-18, 25-13, 25-16, in the rubber match to secure their first finals appearance following a pair of third-place finishes last year.


The finalists: the BaliPure Water Defenders

The Water Defenders pose with their fans from the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac after nailing down the first ticket to the PVL Reinforced Conference finals. With them is the BaliPure team consultant Gil Cortez (extreme right).

“That’s exactly the way I want them to play,” declared a beaming Gorayeb moments after the Water Defenders masterfully ousted the Alyssa Valdez-led Creamline Cool Smashers. “With that kind of play we are ready to play any team in the finals.”

BaliPure team consultant Gil Cortez gushed: “That’s the way volleyball should be played – with balanced attack, solid blocking at the net, and excellent floor coverage. Every one of the girls contributed and I’m mighty proud of them.”

Import Jennifer Keddy and team captain Gretchel Soltones scored 13 points each and Jeng Bualee of Thailand and Rissa Sato 10 apiece to waylay the Cool Smashers with 41 attacks as against the latter’s 30. Particularly absorbing was the way Sato connected with setter Jasmine Nabor in accurately executing lightning-quick middle ambushes that repeatedly caught the opponents flat-footed.

They were ahead in all other departments as well. They piled up five more blocks at 7-2, dished out five more aces at 8-3, and limited their errors to a remarkable 12 as against the other team’s 19.

This is the kind of play coach Gorayeb wants the Water Defenders to carry to the finals. “I can’t ask for more,” he said, unbothered by the latest news of Pocari Sweat’s third foreign reinforcement finally getting her International Transfer Certificate just when it was needed.


The Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors

Consistently prolific Myla Pablo, radiating the glow of a woman happy in her love life, has ably filled in the absence of her indisposed foreign teammate Edina Selimovic. All throughout Game 3 against the Cool Smashers, Pablo was wearing the diamond ring her boyfriend, she said, had given her.

Even Pocari coach Rommel Abella was satisfied with the way the Lady Warriors carried out his strategies in the semifinal rubber match against the Cool Smashers.

Their practice session on the eve of the finals was spent, he said, fine-tuning what his team already has running smoothly.

“We have to pay more attention to our receptions, though,” said Abella, who mentored the debuting Pocari Sweat to the V League Open Conference championship against Philippine Air Force in 2016 and the Reinforced Conference title against Bureau of Customs, also led by Valdez, later in the same year.

“We always led early but would allow the opponents to catch us because of poor first balls. I want this aspect of our game ironed out so we could have more excellent sets for the spikers.”

The Lady Warriors will be riding high on their incredible 100% batting average – a title in each of the two V League Conferences they only competed in – when they do battle with the Water Defenders in the finals of the PVL Reinforced Conference, another event organized by Sports Vision, the same outfit behind the hugely successful V League, in cooperation with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball.

Once felled and immobilized by back spasms during a game, Myla Pablo, undisputedly the best local player in the PVL opening Conference, said she already felt tired playing every other day under the constant threat of recurring back pains.

“But I will be there in the finals ready to push myself to the limit again in the name of Pocari Sweat,” she vowed, the diamond ring on her finger, a gift from her boyfriend, glinting as it caught the powerful overhead lights inside PhilSports.

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