Unless Customs comes up with an antidote to Pocari Sweat’s solid block-ing, the Lady Warriors could well be on their way to hurdling the last stumbling block leading to a grand maiden Shakey’s V-League season today.
American Breanna Mackie and skipper Michele Gumabao unleashed a pair of 13-hit games it was the Lady Warriors’ rock-solid blocking that anchored their surprisingly easy 25-22, 25-18, 25-18 romp over the Transformers in the opener of their best-of-three series for the Season 13 Reinforced Conference crown late Saturday.
Siemens Dadang and another American Kay Kacsits accounted for eight of their team’s 15 blocks that virtually silenced the fancied Alyssa Valdez, who was held to just 12 points, and the rest of the Transformers.
“Our strength is really in blocking. We know it’s our ticket to the championship,” said Pocari coach Rommel Abella. “Our floor defense will only react on how our blocking will go. Good thing, both worked in Game One.”
Unbeaten since dropping a five-setter to the Air Force Jet Spikers last October 5, the Lady Warriors will be gunning not only for their 10th straight win the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s but also for the championship.
Game time is at 6 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig with Pocari Sweat all primed up for a follow-up to its victory in the Open Conference on its very first campaign in the country’s premier women’s volley league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
A Customs victory will force a sudden death on Wednesday.
But with the way the Lady Warriors are playing – and blocking – Customs will have to transform into one mean attacking team and break into Pocari’s defensive wall.
“The only thing that will prevent us from winning this championship is complacency. If we stay focused and not be overconfident, we’ll get this,” said Pocari Sweat skipper Gumabao.
The Lady Warriors actually didn’t only neutralize Valdez but also Thai reinforcement Kanjana Kuthaisong, who struggled for just eight hits, herself failing to pierce into their rivals solid blocking.
With its net defense holding, Pocari Sweat virtually saw no need to step up its attack, settling to match Customs’ 30 spikes with Kacsits and Dadang chipping in seven hits apiece and Myla Pablo slowing down with just six points.
Fil-Am setter Iris Tonelada also yielded to Thai counterpart Nattanicha Jaisaen, 35-47, in their side of the duel. But the Lady Warriors scored 10 more blocks than their rivals which practically spelled the difference.
Still, Customs coach Sherwin Meneses is expected to come up with major adjustments on their offense with Valdez and the rest of the Transformers raring to mount another comeback the way they did in battling from 0-1 down to frustrate the BaliPure Water Defenders in their Final Four duel.
Meanwhile, BaliPure also eyes a sweep of UST in their battle for third at 4 p.m. with the Water Defenders tipped to duplicate their 19-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-18 in Game One.