Two months after getting foiled at its first crack at the Premier Volleyball League championship, BaliPure is at again – better, stronger and hungrier.
And the Water Defenders find it fitting to be gunning for the elusive crown against the very team, which stymied their bid the first time out.
BaliPure took the opener of their sudden death for the Reinforced Conference crown last June but wavered in the next three, enabling Pocari Sweat to nail the victory and seal a third straight championship in the country’s premier women’s volley league.
But a more mature, disciplined Water Defenders side feels they are now ripe for the picking and have the tools and experience not only to get back at the Lady Warriors but also savor the sweet taste of a championship victory.
“It’s a different kind of feeling winning a championship and I will just rely on my players’ aggressiveness,” said BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb, after disposing of an Alyssa Valdez-less Creamline in sudden death Wednesday.
Game One of the best-of-three finals is set at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow after the league, organized by Sports Vision, honors the top performers in the mid-season conference backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Air Force and Creamline also open their own series for third at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Cignal TV guns for the men’s crown in Game Two of their series with Mega Builders at 1 p.m.
But focus will surely be on the Pocari-BaliPure title duel with the Lady Warriors, who barely survived the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers in their side of the semis series, also out to extend their championship run.
With a new coach and sans some of the key players of their first three title victories, the Lady Warriors kept on winning titles and are two wins away from nailing a fourth straight diadem.
On the verge of elimination against the Lady Jet Spikers in their sudden death for the first finals berth last Wednesday, the Lady Warriors still found a way, battling back from two sets and saving two match points to steal the third, dominate the fourth and win the decider.
Coach Rico de Guzman unraveled a surprised package in Heather Guino-o, who stepped up to save the team in the third set then sustained her form in the next two in teaming up with Myla Pablo and the rest of the Lady Warriors.
“If you want to win, you also have to gamble,” said de Guzman, referring to the former FEU mainstay Guino-o, who scored 14 hits, including 10 attack points in only her fourth game with the Lady Warriors.
But in their second title face-off with BaliPure, de Guzman will have to come up with more surprises to foil the Water Defenders the second time around.
Because Grethcel Soltones, Risa Sato, Aiko Urdas ace playmaker Jasmine Nabor and the rest of the Water Defenders are now hungrier, fiercer for a payback.