POCARI SWEAT proved too much, too strong for Team Baguio, scoring an easy 25-18, 25-17, 25-15 victory to clinch the first semifinal berth in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Saturday.
Pocari coach Rommel Abella found no need for Michelle Gumabao and Myla Pablo to suit up and the power-hitting duo, who combined for 95 hits in their first three wins, just watched Rossan Fajardo, Maricar Nepomuceno and Elaine Kasilag run the show and lead the 63-minute demolition of the Summer Spikers.
“I doubled my effort and really stepped up for the team. But it’s our good communication inside the court that carried us through,” said Fajardo, who rammed in 11 kills and finished with four aces in a match aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23.
The Lady Warriors have been playing as one cohesive unit in the early going of the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel with Abella citing their cohesion as their main weapon.
“I challenged them to step up and they responded. I’d like to credit our good start to the team’s chemistry,” said Abella, whose wards take a much needed one-week break before clashing with Team Iriga on June 18, BaliPure on June 25 before facing equally unbeaten Air Force on June 27.
Against the Summer Spikers’ token floor and net defense, the Lady Warriors took charge early in each of the first three sets, scoring almost at will with their spikes on both sides, combination plays, blocks and service.
They finished with 41 attack points, more than half of their rivals’ 21-kill effort and produced five blocks against the Summer Spikers’ three. Pocari also cashed in on Baguio’s weak service reception, coming away with 10 aces against the other side’s five.
Nepomuceno backed Fajardo with 12 hits while Kasilag added nine markers and Rose Vargas, Roselle Baliton, Erika Alkuino and Lutgarda Malaluan combined for 19 points.
No Baguio player hit the double-digit mark with skipper Ai Tsuchiya topscoring with seven markers and Nicole Guyguyon and Mary Ann Atuban chipping in five and four points, respectively.