Down in a short title series, BaliPure remains hopeful of pulling it off although it would need to neutralize Pocari Sweat’s formidable pair of reinforcements to earn a shot at the Premier Volleyball League crown.
Drawing added firepower from debuting import-replacement Krystal Rivers, the Lady Warriors battled back from one-set down to sweep the next three, including the last on deuce points, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24, in the opener of their best-of-three series for the PVL Reinforced Conference title at the Philsports Arena on Saturday.
Game Two is set at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The top seeded Water Defenders had looked forward to a big night after taking the opening frame but failed to sustain their charge in the face of the Lady Warriors’ mighty comeback, anchored on the power-hitting Rivers.
The former US NCAA Division 1 player from University of Alabama who replaced injured Bosnian middle blocker Edina Selimovic struggled in the early going but settled down in time and came away with a top-scoring 20-hit output, including three kill blocks.
The Water Defenders actually appeared headed to forcing a decider when they tied the count at 24 in the fourth but yielded the next two points, enabling the Lady Warriors to secure the win and move a win from keeping the crown they won last year.
But BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb is expected to come up with adjustments to contain Strizak and Rivers in a bid to equalize and force a sudden death for the coveted crown in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
BaliPure’s American import Jennifer Keddy is also out to atone for her eight-hit output the first time out, failing to match Thai reinforcement Jang Bualee’s solid game of 16 hits, including 13 attack points.
Playmaker Jasmine Nabor also hopes to rebound from a 26-excellent set performance, 12 less than counterpart Gyzelle Sy with the Water Defenders also seek to come up with answers to their rivals’ solid net defense that produced 15 kill blocks.
Grethcel Soltones, Risa Sato and Jerrili Malabanan are also expected to raise the level of their respective games after being outshone by the combination of Myla Pablo-Jeanette Panaga-Desiree Dadang, whose solid games complemented with those of Rivers and Strizak’s.