Lady Warriors battle back from 0-2, barge back into Finals

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 09, 2017 06:51 PM
Lady Warriors battle back from 0-2, barge back into Finals
HEART OF A CHAMPION. Pocari Sweat rallied from two sets down to make its fourth straight Finals appearance.

Pocari Sweat is once again in the Finals, this time in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League Women’s Open Conference.

And they did it all while proving they still have the heart of a champion.

Myla Pablo came up clutch once more, newcomer Heather Guino-o played big, and the Lady Warriors dug out of a two-set hole to hack out a hardfought five-set win against Philippine Air Force, 16-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, and 15-10 on Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Pablo hammered down four of her 22 points in the fifth and final frame to bring Pocari Sweat to its fourth straight Finals appearance.

It was the MVP frontrunner, along with Jeanette Panaga, who stood strong in the fifth set and connived for the 5-1 run that broke the tied tally at 6-6 and built the 11-7 advantage the Lady Warriors would keep the rest of the way.

Pablo registered 18 kills, but had to work for each and every one of them. “Sa tema ng laro, simula first set, parang walang gana ang players. Kaya sabi ko, ‘Semis na ‘to. Wala nang Game 4,’” head coach Sgt. Rico de Guzman said in his post-game conference.

He then continued, “Yung tutulong kay Myla, yun lang ang hinahanap ko. Kaya nag-gamble na ako ng tao.”

De Guzman got just what he was looking for in reserve Heather Guino-o who scored 14 points in just her fourth game with the team. “Siya yung bumuhay sa team. Siya yung tumulong kay Myla,” the head coach expressed.

Indeed, it was also Guino-o who delivered the timely service aces that allowed Pocari Sweat to steal the third set.

Surrendering the first two sets without much fight, the Lady Warriors were in the brink of elimination, down 22-23 in the third set.

Following an error by the Lady Jet Spikers, however, the former Far Eastern University standout served up back-to-back aces to keep her team alive and kicking. “Nabuhayan yung team sa dalawang service ace ni Heather,” de Guzman said.

In the end, Guino-o had 14 points, four coming from the service line, while Panaga added 13 markers of her own.

The character-building win only gives Pocari Sweat confidence as they gear up for a best-of-three Finals series against either Creamline and BaliPure starting on Saturday. “Parehas kaming tinalo nyan, pero lalaban at lalaban kami sa kanila,” the mentor said.

On the other hand, Air Force bows out of the tournament even after having four players in double-digits led by Mary Ann Pantino who had 16 points.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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