Air Force sets out for a repeat of its thriller of a comeback the first time out as it goes for a sweep of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference crown against embattled Pocari Sweat tonight at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Joy Casas, May Ann Pantino and Jocemer Tapic stepped up and combined in a fiery Lady Jet Spikers’ finish to snare a 17-25, 25-20, 15-25, 26-24, 15-11 decision in the opener of their best-of-three series last Wednesday, moving them a win from finally nailing a Shakey’s V-League crown.
Air Force had two fourth place efforts as its best finish in the league where it all started, the last in 2014 Open before it took a leave of absence for two years to toughen up in various commercial leagues.
With a souped-up roster headed by former UST stalwart Judy Ann Caballejo, the Jet Spikers slugged it out with the best in the field and came out on top of the elims play before sweeping the Laoag Power Smashers in the Final Four to gain a first-ever crack at the championship in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel.
After turning back the highly-favored Lady Warriors in the title series opener, the Jet Spikers seek to finish off their rivals starting at 6:30 p.m. to be shown live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23. The match can also be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
“It’s our fighting spirit that carried us through,” said Air Force coach Jasper Jimenez, who also took notice of his wards’ awesome form.
“Even if we had to go to a sixth or seventh set, I still think my players are fit and strong enough to play until the end,” said Jimenez.
Wendy Ann Semana hopes to put up another solid playmaking after dishing out a league-record 65 excellent sets in Game One, which helped them overcome a big deficit in the fourth frame.
Semana, however, said it was a total team effort and praised her teammates for not giving up.
“It was a total team effort and no one really wanted to give when we were down big in the fourth set,” said Semana.
The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, try to leave their late Game One foldup behind and vow to go all out and force a sudden death.
“We have high hopes we can bounce back,” said Pocari interim coach Rommel Abella.
Michele Gumabao came through 22 points, most of which came in the first three sets, but the former La Salle star slowed down in the last two.
Top hitter Myla Pablo also struggled a bit, finishing with 18 points after norming 26 in the final two games of Pocari semifinals win over Valdez and BaliPure last July 3.
Meanwhile, BaliPure, which lost to Pocari in their sudden death for the second finals berth, also guns for a sweep of third place against Laoag at 4 p.m.
Conference MVP Gretchel Soltones and Janine Marciano took over in the absence of Alyssa Valdez to power the Water Defenders to a 23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11 victory over the Power Smashers, also last Wednesday.
The league will also fete the top individual performers, led by Soltones, in-between the matches.