Pocari Sweat and BaliPure go for repeat over their respective Final Four rivals as they try to arrange a showdown for the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference crown at the Philsports Arena in Pasig today.
The Lady Warriors checked an impending skid and escaped with a 25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 15-12 victory over the Power Smashers in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series last Saturday, keeping them on track of keeping the first of two of championships they won in their maiden stint in the league last year.
Pocari has bucked the odds to move within a win from another finals appearance, topping the quarters and toppling the Power Smashers despite lack of an import replacement. Krystal Rivers, set to take over the injured Edina Selimovic spot, still can’t suit up without the ITC (International Transfer Certificate).
But coach Rommel Abella has motivated his wards to overcome adversities with top hitters import Michelle Strizak and Myla Pablo combining well with Jeanetta Panaga, Cai Nepomuceno, Elaine Kasilang, Desiree Dadang and the rest of the group, including ace playmaker Gyzelle Sy.
But expect the Power Smashers to come into their 4 p.m. encounter in fierce form in a bid to send their series to a rubber match on Thursday.
The Power Smashers actually outhit the defending champions in Game One, producing 52 attack points against their rivals’ 48. Pocari did prevail in other scoring skills, 15-13 (blocks), and 8-6 (serve), but the Power Smashers could’ve easily overcome those deficits with good communication and a more solid floor coverage, which they hope to improve in Game Two.
Top seed BaliPure is also going all-out to finish off Creamline in their 6:30 p.m. showdown with the Water Defenders aiming to duplicate their 22-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-21 victory the first time out.
Jennifer Keddy is again expected to lead BaliPure’s charge with fellow import Jaroensri Bualee tipped to come into the match in top form after being slowed down by a shoulder injury she sustained in their quarters duel with the Power Smashers.
“We were leading in the first set but the problem was Bualee was injured. I told Risa (Sato) to help her (Bualee) in offense. Aiko (Urdas) also provided the needed support. They are playing differently now as they are able to complement each other,” said BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb after steering the Water Defenders past the Alyssa Valdez-led squad.
Valdez, who normed in the 20s in the elims up to the quarters, has shared the scoring load with imports Laura Schaudt and Kuttika Kaewpin but the former league MVP is out to pour it all out today and keep the Cool Smashers in the title hunt in their maiden season in the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Meanwhile, Army and Sta. Elena also seek to make it two-in-row over higher seeded rivals Air Force and Cignal HD, respectively, in the men’s semis. The Troopers upended the top seed Air Force Jet Spikers, 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, while the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls shocked the No. 2 Cignal HD Spikers, 25-20, 24-26, 25-22, 30-28.
Games today (Philsports Arena)
10 a.m. – Sta. Elena vs Cignal (men’s)
1 p.m. – Army vs Air Force (men’s)
4 p.m. – Pocari Sweat vs Power Smashers (women’s)
6: 30 p.m. – Creamline vs BaliPure (women’s)