• Pocari, Customs duel for V-L plum

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    n Pocari Sweat import Breanna Mackie defies UST’s double block put up by Ria Meneses and Chlodia Cortez during their Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference semis clash.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Pocari Sweat import Breanna Mackie defies UST’s double block put up by Ria Meneses and Chlodia Cortez during their Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference semis clash. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Pocari Sweat and Bureau of Customs kick off their best-of-three series for the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference crown today (Saturday) in a duel of power, blocking, reception, digs and serves between two teams of equal strength.

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    Though Customs maintains Pocari has the edge, observers feel odds are just about even and predict a fierce, down-to-the-wire battle for the season-ending conference crown of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.

    The Lady Warriors do have the experience in title playoffs, having won the Open Conference crown over the Air Force Jet Spikers early in the season. But despite being a newcomer in the league, the Transformers boast of a formidable frontline rotation and a backup crew ready to step up and peaking at the right time.

    Game One is set at 6 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig with the match to be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and S+A HD Ch 166 and via streaming on www.sports.abs-cbn.com, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

    Meanwhile, Air Force guns for the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference crown as it tangles with Cignal in Game 2 of their own series at 12:30 p.m. The Air Spikers edged the HD Spikers, 23-25, 19-25, 25-19, 27-25, 15-12, in Game One last Wednesday.

    Champion also tries to wrap up its series for third against Instituto Estetico Manila at 10:30 a.m.

    UST and BaliPure also starts their own best-of-three playoff for third at 4 p.m. to be aired on a delayed basis.

    Pocari imports Breanna Mackie and Kay Kacsits and Customs’ Thai reinforcements Kanjana Kuthaisong and setter Natthanicha Jaisaen will likely cancel each other out in spiking, setting and digs, or net defense, leaving the battle to the local aces.

    Customs may gain the edge in that area with crowd favorite Alyssa Valdez expected to unleash another fiery outing but the Lady Warriors have shown they can handle the former Ateneo star’s power when they swept the Transformers in their elims face-off last Oct. 22.

    That win served as Pocari’s third straight since dropping its opening game assignment to Air Force last Oct. 5 and the Lady Warriors never lost again, topping the elims with a 7-1 card and then sweeping the UST Tigresses in the Final Four.

    In contrast, Customs struggled in the elims but made it to the semis just the same. And the Transformers needed to fight back from one game down in the semis to repulse the BaliPure Water Defenders, 2-1, and gain a crack at the crown.

    Those back-to-back victories should also augur well for Customs in the finals with the Transformers out to duplicate the Lady Warriors’ feat of winning a crown on its first foray in the league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.

    Providing support to Kuthaisong, Jaisaen and Valdez are Rose Marie Vargas, Pau Soriano, Lilet Mabbayad and libero Jonalyn Ibisa while Mackie and Kacsits will count on skipper Michelle Gumabao, crisp spiking Myla Pablo, Elaine Kasilag, Desiree Dadang, Fil-Am setter Iris Tonelada and libero Melissa Gohing.

    Games today
    10:30 a.m. – Champion vs IEM (Spiker’ for third)
    12:30 p.m. – Cignal vs Air Force (Spikers finals)
    4 p.m. – UST vs BaliPure (V-L for third)
    6 p.m. – Customs vs Pocari (V-L finals)

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