Lady Warriors repel W Defenders, keep lead

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Pocari Sweat got back at BaliPure in style, battling back from two sets down, winning on deuced points in the next two then overcoming a 9-11 deficit in the fifth to pound out an 18-25, 21-25, 26-24, 27-25, 15-13 victory and firm up its lead in the Premier Volleyball League at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Thursday.

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The imports finally suited up after FIVB cleared all reinforcements with their ITCs (International Transfer Certificate) Wednesay night and they dominated the match marked by crisp hits and solid blocking with Michelle Strizak coming through with a powerful spike off a superb receive to finish off the Water Defenders.

Pocari thus avenged its straight-set loss to BaliPure the first time out and stretched its amazing win run to six after dropping its firs two games, solidifying its hold of the lead heading to the final stretch of the double round elims of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

Pocari import Edina Sellimovic scores on a tip over BaliPure’s counterparts Jennifer Keddy (8) and Jeng Baulee (7) during their Premier Volleyball League clash. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Water Defenders dropped to 4-2 but remained in second, their bid for a repeat fizzling out with wavering finishes in the last three sets.

The defending champions actually didn’t only overcome two early set deficits but also the sidelining of top local hitter Myla Pablo, who grimaced in pain after an attack that tied the count at 11 in the second set, complaining of a back injury. She was rushed to Cardinal Santos Medical Center early in the third.

Down by the two sets and without Pablo, the Lady Warriors also rallied late in the third and fourth sets, forcing and winning deuced points to send the match into a decider.

BaliPure took the first three points and held on to an 11-9 lead on a block and a hit before Pocari Sweat unleashed a strong finishing kick anchored on Elaine Kasilag and imports Edina Selimovic and Strizak, winning six of the last eight points to pull off the reversal.

Selimovic finished with a game-high 24 hits, including 17 attack points, while Strizak added 16 kills, and Kasilag and Jeanette Panaga combined for 25 points for the defending champions.

It was a sorry setback for the Water Defenders, who looked headed for a romp after a strong start only to waver in the face of the Lady Warriors fiery comeback.

Jennifer Keddy topscored for BaliPure with 21 hits while Grethcel Soltones backed her up with 18 markers and Thai veteran reinforcement added 17.

Pocari barely won in attacks, 56-51, but BaliPure produced more aces, 11-6, and the two teams finished with the same number of blocks, 14.

Earlier, Air Force shocked Army, 25-22, 25-20, 27-25, to improve to 2-1 in the men’s tournament of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.

The Troopers, who swept their first two matches, fell to their second straight defeat.

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