With Krystal Rivers expected to have settled down after a shaky debut in the series opener, Pocari Sweat sets out for a sweep of BaliPure in Game Two of the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Finals at the Philsports Arena in Pasig tonight.
The Lady Warriors fought back from an opening set setback to beat the Water Defenders, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24, at the start of their best-of-three title series late Saturday. And unless BaliPure neutralizes or slows down Pocari Sweat’s prolific imports, the Lady Warriors could be heading to a successful title repeat in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
Rivers, a former US NCAA Division 1 player from University of Alabama, took some time to shake off jitters, a pair of mishits and miscues before unleashing a 20-hit effort in her first game in the league. With fellow reinforcement Michelle Strizak adding 18 points and the local aces backing them up with superb all-around game, the Lady Warriors subdued the top seeded Water Defenders and moved a win from repeating as champs.
They do expect the Water Defenders to strike back in their 6:30 p.m. match, to be aired live on S+A Channel 23, but the Lady Warriors remain confident and ready although they stressed the need to sustain their charge to wrap it up tonight.
“Like what we experienced in our past games, we don’t have problems getting leads but in sustaining them. That’s what we need to address especially the mental focus of the players. Hopefully we’ll be able to work on that in Game Two,” said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella.
He was referring to their near-foldup in the series open as his wards blew two seven-point leads in the fourth set and needed to fight back from 22-24 down to win the last four points, including a Grethcel Soltones error, two kill blocks and a Gyzelle Sy ace to clinch the win.
Abella also expects more from the 5-11 Rivers, who had 17 attack points from 44 attempts in Game One of the series backed by Mikasa and Asics.
“We’re not impressed with her game based on her performance during practice. We know she still has a lot to show,” said Abella. “We are expect a few more surprises coming from her in the second game.”
But BaliPure mentor Roger Gorayeb is expected to come up with counter plays to at least minimize Strizak and Rivers’ threats while pinning his hopes on the troika of Jennifer Keddy, Jang Bualee and Soltones for their attack. He also hopes to draw more from playmaker Jasmine Nabor, who only produced 26-excellent sets, 12 less than counterpart Sy
Meanwhile, Cignal HD likewise guns for a sweep of Air Force in their duel for the men’s crown at 12 noon while Sta. Elena and Creamline also try to wrap their own best-of-three series for third against Army and the Power Smashers at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.