Water Defenders drag Finals series to a decider

Mark Escarlote on Jun 13, 2017 09:45 PM
Water Defenders drag Finals series to a decider
BaliPure hitter Grethcel Soltones goes for an off speed attack to avoid the defensive wall of Pocari Sweat's Desiree Dadang and American import Krystal Rivers.

BaliPure squandered a two-set lead but kept its composure in the fifth set to survive Pocari Sweat and force a decider in their inaugural Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference best-of-three Finals series.

American import Jennifer Keddy was active at the net, Thai reinforcement Jeng Bualeee showed her vintage form and Grethcel Soltones was sharp in the crucial stretch of the fifth to lead the Water Defenders to a 25-15, 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 15-13, Game 2 win that leveled the series 1-1 Tuesday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.      

Bualee exploded with 19 kills in her 20-point outing while Keddy registered 20 coming off 10 kills, six kill blocks and four service aces for BaliPure. Three-time NCAA Most Valuable Player and newly-awarded conference 2nd Best Blocker Soltones had an all-around game with 11 points all off attacks while adding 21 excellent receptions and 13 digs for the Water Defenders.

Risa Sato and Jerrili Malabanan, who only played in three sets, chipped in 10 markers each.    

Game 3 is on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Water Defenders came back from an 11-12 deficit in the deciding frame with three straight points off a net touch error by the Lady Warriors, an off the block kill by Soltones and a kill block by Keddy on Pocari Sweat American import Krystal Rivers to put BaliPure at match point, 14-12.

Pocari Sweat saved a match point but Soltones delivered the match-clinching cross court hit for the Water Defenders, who came back from a 6-9 deficit midway in the fifth frame.

“Ilang games na kaming natatalo na last kami. Hahabol kami tapos last kami (to close a set), matatalo kami. Naulit na naman ngayon, dalawang set pa. Dalawang 24-23 'yun o, natalo kami ng third set at fourth set. Ito ngang fifth set, 'di ko na alam kung anong gagawin ko kasi ganun na naman. Buti na lang 14-12 'yun, 'yung na-block kay Grethcel. Nu’ng 14-13, last na naman eh. Mahirap,” said BaliPure mentor Roger Gorayeb.

“Wala, nakakatuwa pa rin sila kasi kung ano man ang naging result nun, proud pa rin ako kasi hindi naman kami natalo ng parang kaming mga batang maliliit lang diyan na tinuturan nilang mag-volleyball,” he added.   

The Lady Warriors banked on Rivers in the third set to avoid a sweep.

Pocari Sweat saw its 20-15 lead evaporate in the Water Defenders scorching rally that tied the frame at 22. Rivers gave the lead back to the Lady Warriors, 23-22, with an off the block kill but BaliPure countered with two straight points from a Jerrili Malabanan kill and a kill block by Keddy. Rivers saved a match point before Desiree Dadang, who was throwing away errors from the service line, nailed an ace to give Pocari Sweat the set advantage. An overcooked crosscourt hit by Keddy extended the match.            

The Lady Warriors went up 20-14 in the fourth set but again the Water Defenders slowly chipped away their deficit and tied the frame at 22. An attack by Bualee followed by Rivers’ spike that went long put BaliPure at match point.

But Pocari Sweat refused to go down with Rivers hitting a sharp kill followed by a Pablo kill block on Malabanan and capped by Jessey De Leon’s quick kill to drag the contest to a decider.

The Lady Warriors took the series opener, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24, last Saturday.

Rivers closed her night with 26 points, all from attacks, while American import Michelle Strizak and and Myla Pablo scored 15 and 14 markers, respectively, for Pocari Sweat, which gave away 37 points off errors.   



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