Lady Warriors foil Cool Smashers, near PVL semis

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Pocari Sweat pounced on Creamline’s miscues to wrest control in the decider then held on to a 25-23, 25-21, 21-15, 18-25, 15-11 victory to assure itself of a playoff for a semifinals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Tuesday.

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The Lady Warriors scored six points off the Cool Smashers’ unforced errors in the fifth set to seize an 8-5 lead then hung tough to foil their rivals’ rallies and hack out the crucial victory.

It was Pocari’s second straight win in the short quarterfinal phase among four teams, putting the defending champions closer to joining early semifinalists BaliPure and the Power Smashers in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

Creamline’s Kuttika Kaewpin fires away a kill against Pocari’s counterpart Michelle Strizak during their PVL Reinforced Conference quarterfinals duel. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Import Michelle Strizak stood at the forefront of the Lady Warriors’ charge and finished with 30 hits, Myla Pablo added 12 markers while Desiree Dadang and Cai Nepomunceno chipped in 11 points apiece and came through with four kill blocks each.

Alyssa Valdez and imports Kuttika Kaewpin and Lindsay Schaudt tried to rally the Cool Smashers to within 11-13 but the Lady Warriors scored on a kill and took the set and the match with a block off Valdez’s final attack.

Playing solid despite lacking an import backup to injured Elina Selimovic, Pocari swept the first two sets but wavered in the next two as the slow-starting Cool Smashers regained their rhythm to send the match into the decider.

The loss dropped Creamline to 1-1 and must hurdle Air Force tomorrow to stay in the semis hunt.

Air Force and Perlas, which dropped their opening quarters matches, were still playing at presstime.

Pocari took charge early, posting six-point leads in the opening frame. But Creamline refused to give up and pulled to within one at 23-24, only to yield with a service error from Kuttika Kaewpin.

Faulty serves actually marred the Cool Smashers’ endgame stint with Laura Schaudt and Alex Cabanos making one each in the stretch.

Earlier, Cignal HD foiled Sta. Elena, 25-14, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21, to clinch the No. 2 slot in the semis of the men’s tournament of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.

Mark Alfafara blasted in 19 hits, while Peter Torres and Lorenzo Capate combined for 23 points as the HD Spikers closed out the elims with a 4-1 card behind Air Force, which also posted a 4-1 mark.

Sta. Elena settled for No. 3 with a 3-2 slate.

Army and Instituto Estetico Manila, which finished the elims with identical 2-3 cards, dispute the last Final Four seat in a playoff tomorrow.

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