Pocari eyes more championships

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Pocari Sweat’s methodical, if masterful disposal of Customs in the just-concluded Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference Finals only underscores the team’s desire to win as many championships—and dominate the league.

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“We’re practically bringing back almost the same cast next season so expect us to go for a third title,” said Pocari team manager Eric Ty after the Lady Warriors hacked out a 25-14, 25-10, 22-25, 25-23 victory to sweep their best-of-three series with the Customs Transformers late Monday.

Members of Pocari Sweat, led by coach Rommel Abella and Finals MVP Michelle Gumabao, flash the No. 2 after going 2-for-2 in their maiden season in the Shakey’s V-League. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Members of Pocari Sweat, led by coach Rommel Abella and Finals MVP Michelle Gumabao, flash the No. 2 after going 2-for-2 in their maiden season in the Shakey’s V-League. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Except for setter Gyzelle Sy, who is set to join another team, Pocari will remain intact for next season’s campaign with Michele Gumabao, Myla Pablo, Fil-Am setter Iris Tolenada, Melissa Gohing, Elaine Kasilag, Siemens Desiree Dadang and Shola Alvarez all staying put.

Ty also vowed to toughen up his already formidable roster.

“I’m looking at several players who we could add to the team and could make us stronger,” he said.

With the right mix and motivation, the Lady Warriors bucked the odds, including the sport’s most recognizable figure, and came out a winner the second time around.

And going two-for-two for a newcomer in a cutthroat competition is no easy feat.

But coach Rommel Abella has put together one mean squad – no superstars but a bunch of gritty warriors ready to step up at any given time.

Tapping two tall, talented American reinforcement did anchor their successful title campaign in the import-laced tournament but the locals also put in their share, outplaying and outshining their counterparts throughout to complete their romp.

The Lady Warriors actually did it in style, sweeping their last 10 games after dropping a five-setter to the Air Force Jet Spikers in their opening match last Oct. 5. They took the top seeding in the Final Four and dominated the import-less UST side to seal a dream showdown with Alyssa Valdez and the Transformers.

But the projected fierce duel didn’t turn out as such as the Lady Warriors imposed their will on the net and choked the Transformers with their solid blocking to complete the sweep.

Like in their Open Conference win, skipper Michelle Gumabao said they did nothing special in their latest feat but made sure to limit the heart-and-soul of the Transformers.

“I think we just focused on her because she was the one who brought her team up,” said Gumabao, referring to Valdez, whom they held to just 12 hits in their 25-22, 25-18, 25-18 Game One win and 10 in Game Two after the conference MVP normed 19 points in the elims and semis.

The ploy to shackle Valdez actually seemed to have backfired in Game Two as Thai reinforcement Kanjana Kuthaisong came away with a season-high 32 hits, putting the Transformers back into the game after two lopsided set losses with a third set win. Customs kept it close in the fourth, only to lose it all on miscues at endgame.

“We focused on defending her (Valdez) that we forgot about Kuthaisong, who played her best game,” said Gumabao. “But we found a way to win and the fourth set was a test of character for us.”

It also spoke well of the Lady Warriors’ resiliency and determination, which they hope to flaunt again when the next season of the league where it all started comes around early next year.

“I think this championship from the very start is meant for us because we’ve worked hard for this and we went to every game wanting to win the championship,” said Gumabao. “This was the end goal and finally, we achieved it.”

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