Pocari Sweat leaned on its big fighting heart and championship experience to frustrate Hair Fairy Air Force as it battled back from two sets down to hack out a 16-20, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-10 victory and gain a crack at a fourth straight championship in the Premier Volleyball League at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan last night.
Heather Guino-o came off the bench to fire 14 points, helping the Lady Warriors save two match points and steal the third frame before sustaining her form and combining with Myla Pablo the rest of the way to fashion out the stirring come-from-behind victory in their sudden death for the first finals berth in the Open Conference.
Guino-o scored four points in their decisive 10-4 windup in the decider, turning a 5-6 deficit into a resounding five-point victory aided by Jocemer Tapic’s serve that sailed long and ended the grueling encounter that saw players from both teams slow down in either trying to launch their spikes, chasing the incoming attacks or keeping the ball in play.
The two teams gained the last two points on each other’s miscue.
But the Lady Warriors proved steadier in the end, displaying grace under pressure and banking on their experience from their three straight championships in as many stints in the league organized by Sports Vision.
Pocari Sweat dropped a stinging straight-set loss to Air Force in the opener of their best of three series, 20-25, 19-25, 21-25, last Saturday but rallied from one set down to force a rubber match with a 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12 victory last Sunday.
Hair Fairy-Air Force looked headed to duplicating its Game One romp when it swept the first two sets of the sudden death but Guino-o, taking over the spot of Elaine Kasilag, stepped up late in the third, scoring five points as the Lady Warriors fought back from 23-25 to snatch the set.
They dominated the fourth behind Pablo and pulled away midway in the fifth.
Pablo finished with 22 points built on 18 hits and two service aces while Guino-o ended up 10 attack points and four aces as they shared the game’s top honors. Jeanette Panaga added 13 hits for Pocari Sweat, which will meet the winner in the other sudden death between BaliPure and Creamline being played at presstime.
Mary Ann Pantino topscored for Air Force with 16 points, Iari Yongco churned out 15 markers, Joy Cases came away with 14 points, and Tapic had 13 hits.
Earlier, Cignal HD got back at Mega Builders, 25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 25-17 victory to zero in on the men’s crown in the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Skipper Ysrael Marasigan unloaded 21 hits while Edmar Bonono and Peter Torres combined for 25 points and Lorenzo Capati and Rex Intal each fired nine markers as the HD Spikers avenged their 24-26, 24-26, 17-25 loss to the Volley Bolt in their elims face-off.
They go for the clincher on Saturday. A decider, if necessary, is set Sunday.
Mega Builders, which surprised the league with superb performance in the elims and the semis, drew 14 points from Bryan Bagunas and 13 markers from Francis Saura while Fauzi Ismail, Kim Malabunga and James Natividad combined for 28 points.
Air Force turned back Sta. Elena, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, to likewise gain the head-start in their best-of-three series for third.