Pocari smothers BaliPure, gains V-L lead share

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Michelle Gumabao (No.7) of Pocari Sweat defies BaliPure’s net defense made up of Dzi Gervacio (No.9) and Rysabelle Devanadera during their Shakey’s VLeague Reinforced Conference encounter at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Michelle Gumabao (No.7) of Pocari Sweat defies BaliPure’s net defense made up of Dzi Gervacio (No.9) and Rysabelle Devanadera during their Shakey’s VLeague Reinforced Conference encounter at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Breanna Lee Mackie hammered in 21 kills as Pocari Sweat overpowered BaliPure, 25-16, 12-25, 25-21, 21-19, on Saturday to firm up its drive for No. 1 in the Final Four of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

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The Lady Warriors bounced back from a listless second set performance with a sweep of the next two, taking the third frame on a strong start and wrapping up the one-hour, 29-minute encounter with a strong finishing kick in the fourth.

It was Pocari Sweat’s fifth straight win after dropping a five-setter to Air Force last Oct. 5 and it tied the Lady Warriors in the lead with the idle UST Tigresses heading to the final elims playdate of the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s on November 2.

Interestingly, Pocari and UST will clash in the final game at 6 p.m. with the winner taking the No. 1 seat in the Final Four for a best-of-three duel with the No. 4 team. The Nos. 2 and 3 squads will clash for the other finals berth.

BaliPure actually put up a superb net defense that netted them 10 blocks, twice more than its rival, but the Lady Warriors proved relentless with their attacks, producing 48 attacks points, 10 more than the Purest Water Defenders.

They imposed their will in the third behind Mackie with Myla Pablo and Michelle Gumabao providing the local backup then the Lady Warriors finished off the Water Defenders with 12 of the last 18 points after a Mackie mishit enabled BaliPure to draw level at 13.

Pocari took the next point to regain the lead on another Mackie attack and after a long, thrilling rally that had the big weekend crown on the edge of their seats. But the Lady Warriors scored five unanswered hits from there and though the Water Defenders threatened at 19-21, Pablo punched in a hit and scored on a block off Katherine Morrell and Gyzel Sy delivered an ace to wrap up the match.

Pablo finished with 11 hits while Gumabao added nine markers with Fil-Am setter adding five points while producing 41 excellent sets for the Lady Warriors who also toppled the Water Defenders in the semifinals en route to winning the Open Conference crown early this year.

Morrell fired 21 points while former league MVP Sue Roces had 10 and the power-hitting Dzi Gervacio and skipper Charo Soriano scored eight markers apiece for BaliPure, which slid to 4-2.

Earlier, Instituto Estetico Manila outsteadied Army, 25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 15-10, to tow Champion Supra into the semifinal round of the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Third Conference, also at Philsports.

The IEM Volley Masters recovered from back-to-back setbacks from the third with a big finish in the decider Keeno Franco and rookie Daryl Valenzuela to improve to 3-2, and join early qualifiers Air Force (4-0) and defending champion Cignal (4-1) in the Final Four. Champion Supra also advanced with a 2-2 slate.

Cignal dealt 100 Plus its fifth straight loss, 25-19, 25-14, 25-16, in a non-bearing match.

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