Pocari Sweat rebounded from a five-set setback to Air Force with a methodical three-set romp over a hapless Coast Guard side, 25-17, 25-9, 25-16, to wheel back into early contention in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Monday.
The Lady Warriors drew a pair of 10-hit efforts from imports Breanna Mackie and Kay Kacsits while skipper Michelle Gumabao unloaded 14 hits, including four aces, as they disposed off the overmatched Lady Dolphins to force a four-way tie at 1-1 with Air Force, Laoag and UP in the short season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
So outclassed were the Lady Dolphins that Pocari could play all-Filipino and still win. With a 41-15 discrepancy in spikes, 7-3 in blocks and 11-3, the Lady Warriors had a virtual practice round against a team which has dropped its first four games in straight sets in the tournament backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
“It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish and we did well in the end,” said Gumabao, referring to their shaky starts in the first two sets that even saw them yield the first six points to the Lady Dolphins.
Pocari also showed up with Jose Rizal U’s Shola Alvarez, who came in late in the third and scored two points, the last wrapping up the 66-minute match.
Grenlen Malapit scored seven hits while Sam Dawson and Jane Maderazo added five and four points for Coast Guard.
Despite the romp, Pocari coach Rommel Abella said there’s still so much work to be down, particularly in team chemistry.
“We need to improve our communication on and off the court. We’re not yet there but we’re getting there,” he said.
Earlier, Air Force bucked a lopsided first-set loss by winning the next three, stunning defending champion Cignal TV, 16-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, to grab the solo lead in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference, also at Philsports.
The Jet Spikers settled down in the second frame after an erratic start with their wing spikers and middle hitters delivering the goods in the next three sets marked by ferocious exchanges of offensive firepower and long rallies.
Two powerful open attacks by Bryan Bagunas, on loan from National U, broke the last of 15 standoffs in the fourth set at 23 and handed the Jet Spikers the match and their second straight victory. They made quick work of debuting 100 PLUS in their opening game last Oct. 1.
The loss dropped the HD Spikers to joint third in the six-team field with Instituto Estetico Manila at 1-1 behind Air Force and Philippine Army (1-0). Champion Supra is in fifth at 0-1 and 100 PLUS is last at 0-2.
The Jet Spikers’ overpowering offense pulled them through despite 37 errors, 20 more than Cignal’s 17 with coach Rhovyl Verayo attributing it to three days of no training since last Friday.
Mark Gil Alfafara and Howard Mojica, both former UAAP and NCAA MVPs, respectively, and veterans Jhayr Labrador and Jeffrey Malabanan carried the Jet Spikers in the thick of the fight. Alfafara finished with 18 points while Mojica had 16 markers and Labrador and Malabanan added nine hits apiece.
Herschel Ramos, who pumped in 14 points for Cignal, teamed up with Lorenzo Capate Jr. (12 points), Edmar Bonono (12), and Peter Torres (9) as the HD Spikers roared to leads of seven, eight points before closing out the opening set by nine, 25-16.
But the Jet Spikers made it close in the next three and swept them.