Pocari Sweat clinches first Finals seat

Mark Escarlote on Nov 07, 2016 06:50 PM
Pocari Sweat clinches first Finals seat
Pocari Sweat advanced to the championship round after completing a semifinals series sweep over University of Sto. Tomas.

Experience and veteran composure were the keys for Pocari Sweat to formally punch a Finals ticket in the 13th V-League Reinforced Conference at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Monday.

The Open Conference champion banked on their maturity to escape the young and fiesty Tigresses, 25-17,24-26, 26-24, 25-27,15-8 and sealed the best-of-three semifinals series, 2-0, to advance to their second straight championship appearance.

American import Bre Mackie, Michele Gumabao and Myla Pablo led the way for the Lady Warriors, who trailed early in the fifth set before settling down to tame the Tigresses.

"A win is a win. We'll take it no matter what. We need to win whether by three sets, four sets or five sets as long as we win," said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella. 

Mackie scored 35 points including 32 attacks while Pablo had 11 markers. Elaine Kasilag added eight points while Desiree Dadang and American import Andrea Kacsits, who was fielded starting only in the third set because she needed to change after wearing a wrong pair of shorts, had seven points each for Pocari Sweat, which uncorked 64 attack points. 

UST started hot in the deciding frame for a 2-0 lead. Pocari Sweat countered to build a 12-6 lead.

Pocari Sweat will await the winner in the other semis pairing between BaliPure and Bureau of Customs for the best-of-three Finals. The Purest Water Defenders are ahead in the series, 1-0.    

With the match tied at 1 set apiece, UST gave the Lady Warriors a scare in the third set, sneaking a rally to tie the frame at 18. The feisty Espana-based squad took a 24-23 lead in a see-saw battle.

But Pocari Sweat blasted three straight points sparked by an off the block kill by Mackie capped by back-to-back kill blocks by Desiree Dadang to steal the frame.

The Tigresses threatened again in a neck-and-neck fourth set, taking a 19-17 advantage. Pocari Sweat engaged UST in a back and forth battle before building a 22-20 lead. UST took the lead 23-22 before Mackie tied it at 23 with a through the block kill. UST saved two match points before EJ Laure hit a service ace to put the Tigresses at set point advantage, 26-25. Cortez closed the frame with a joust winner.        

UST, which lost all of its three matches to Pocari Sweat including their elims game last week, will battle the semis series loser between BaliPure and BoC for the bronze medal which is also a best-of-three affair.

Laure finished with 24 points with 21 coming off attacks while Cherry Rondina and Ria Meneses had 17 and 11 points, respectively, for the Tigresses.  






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