Air Force pulled off a shock five-set win over a crippled Pocari Sweat side, snapping a seven-game skid while foiling the defending champions’ bid for the other outright semifinal berth in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Thursday.
Veteran Thai reinforcement Patcharee Saengmuang unloaded a 27-hit game, capping her superb performance with back-to-back hits to seal the Jet Spikers’ surprise 25-19, 24-26, 25-27, 25-21, 15-6 victory over the Lady Warriors.
Air Force also negated American Michelle Strizak’s explosive, conference-best 40-hit effort, including 38 attack points, as the Jet Spikers notched what was only their second victory against eight losses at the close of the double-round elims of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
But the victory primed up the Jet Spikers for the single round quarterfinals starting tomorrow where the four other teams outside the top two will dispute the last two semis berths from scratch.
Pocari, which needed a victory to join BaliPure in the semis, thus closed out with a 6-4 card, keeping the Power Smashers and the Perlas Spikers, toting identical 5-4 marks, in the hunt for the other outright semis seat.
The Power Smashers were playing the Water Defenders while the Perlas side was facing Creamline at presstime.
Joy Cases backed Saengmuang with 21 makers while Jocemer Tapic and Iari Yongco combined for 23 hits, helping the Jet Spikers overcome a 1-2 set deficit to snatch the morale-boosting win.
“Since we’re on a skid, I told the girls to do what we’ve been doing in practice and they delivered,” said Air Force coach Jasper Jimenez.
Already missing the services of top local hitter Myla Pablo (back injury), Pocari also played sans Bosnian import Edina Selimovic (hamstring tear). But the Lady Warriors, behind Strizak, fought back from an opening set loss to win the next two on deuce points.
But the Jet Spikers rebounded with a big win in the fourth and sustained their momentum in the decider, riding on Cases’ two straight aces for a 13-5 Air Force cushion.
Earlier, Air Force clobbered winless Café Lupe, 25-16, 25-22, 25-19, to clinch the first semis berth in the men’s division of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.