Streaking Pocari Sweat and gutsy University of Santo Tomas (UST) won’t take the route to elsewhere this holiday break but to their respective gyms, both bracing for a dogfight in Wednesday’s final day of eliminations in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
At stake is not just the top spot in the Final Four but also the momentum plus the confidence needed in what promises to a pair of slam bang semis matches in the season-ending conference of the league where it all started.
Pocari dropped just one set in a stirring five-game win run after losing a five-setter to Air Force on October 5. And the Lady Warriors are peaking at the right time with imports Breanna Lee Mackie and Kay Kacsits now blending well with the locals, led by Michele Gumabao, Myla Pablo and Elaine Kasilag and Filipino-American setter Iris Tonelada, to anchor that streak that tied them with the Tigresses on top at 5-1.
That makes their Wednesday’s duel a match to watch although Pocari Sweat looms as the slight favorite owing to its reinforced roster with UST relying on its gutsy all-Pinay crew headed by the power-hitting EJ Laure, block artist Marivic Meneses, Carla Sandoval, Pam Lastimosa, Chlodia Cortez and the exciting Cherry Rondina.
Game time is at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, BaliPure , which dropped a 16-25, 25-12, 21-25, 19-25 decision to Pocari on Saturday, is expected to bounce back against winless Coast Guard at 4 p.m. and tie Customs for third at 5-2.
But whichever teams clinch the Nos. 1 and 3 spots, a pair of explosive best-of-three semifinal series (1 vs 4 an 2 vs 3), is guaranteed with all four capable of bagging the crown.
For one, Pocari is out to nail its second straight championship on its maiden stint after beating Air Force in the Open Conference early this year. UST, with a rich championship tradition, is raring to prove it can win championships even without an import.
Despite its setback to Pocari, BaliPure remains a chief title contender with imports Katherine Morrell and Kaylee Manns expected to step up in the Final Four along with locals Dzi Gervacio, Amy Ahomiro and former MVP Sue Roces.
Customs, on the other hand, is raring to score a victory on its very first foray in the league with Alyssa Valdez, long considered as the face of the sport, also out to show she can lead a team to the championship.
The two-time league MVP and many-time UAAP MVP, however, hopes to also draw the best from Thai reinforcements Kanjana Kuthaisong and Natthanicha Jaisaen and fellow locals Pau Soriano, Lilet Mabbayad and Rose Marie Vargas.