Pocari Sweat brings down BaliPure, grabs last Finals berth
Mark Escarlote on Jul 04, 2016 08:24 PM
Pocari Sweat gets the last bus ride to the Finals, running over BaliPure in their semifinals series decider.
They are indeed the comeback queens.
Pocari Sweat pulled the rug out from under crowd-favorite and Alyssa Valdez-led BaliPure Purest Water Defenders to book a ticket to the 13th V-League Open Conference Finals, taking another cliffhanger, 15-25, 27-25, 25-11, 25-23, win to close the best-of-three semifinals series at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Monday night.
Michele Gumabao, Elaine Kasilag and Myla Pablo showcased their skills and veteran composure at the clutch to setup a championship showdown with Philippine Air Force as they led the Lady Warriors come back from a 0-1 series deficit.
Pablo exploded with 26 points with 22 coming off kills while Kasilag finished with 21 markers including 18 spikes with her last missile bouncing off the hands of the Water Defenders' Dzi Gervacio. Gumabao showed her vintage form as the former De La Salle stalwart added 15 points with 16 digs for Pocari Sweat, which started slow before heating up to blitz BaliPure.
"Trademark na nga ata namin ang slow start. Tawag nga sa amin diesel team eh kasi ang tagal naming mag-init," said Pocari Sweat assistant coach Rommel Abella. "Good thing nakabawi kami kaagad and nagtulu'y tuloy naman ang efforts namin."
The best-of-three Finals series will open on July 13.
BaliPure took the series opener, 25-20, 25-19, 26-24, before Pocari Sweat equalized with a five-set thriller, 25-23, 13-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-8, last Saturday to force a decider and a fourth faceoff with the Water Defenders in the conference after winning a five-setter in the elims.
Former DLSU star libero Melissa Gohing played superb floor coverage as the Lady Warriors improved on its weakness: service receive. Pocari Sweat gave only three aces to BaliPure with Gohing tagging 18 perfect receptions and 19 digs.
"Wala naman kaming ginawang adjustments. Kung meron man medyo minimal lang. We just focused sa receive namin kasi based from the past games namin dun talaga kami laging maraming errors," added Abella. "Ang pinakamaraming ginawa namin sa training ay yung service receive."
BaliPure threatened to extend the match to a fifth set leading 19-17 only to see Rossan Fajardo, elder sister of DLSU setter Kim Fajardo, tie it for Pocari Sweat at 19 on back-to-back aces that turned the table around in favor of the Lady Warriors.
Grethcel Soltones led BaliPure with 19 points,Valdez scored 15 while Amy Ahomiro had 13.
The Water Defenders will take on Laoag Power Smashers in the best-of-three battle for third.
In case the championship series ends in two games and the third place tussle is tied at one game apiece, the team with the better tiebreaker will win the bronze.
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