PVL Final Four under way


Top seed BaliPure and No. 2 the Power Smashers hope to come out fresh from a week-long break as they take on Creamline and Pocari Sweat, respectively, at the start of the Premier Volleyball League semifinals at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today.

The Water Defenders and the Power Smashers took the much needed rest after gaining outright semis berths following a 1-2 finish in the double round elims, watching their Final Four rivals go through the grueling quarters phase marked by five-set thrillers.

Pocari Sweat swept the four-team field while Creamline finished 2-1 as they clinched the last two semis slots over Perlas Spikers and Air Force and seal a pair of explosive matches tipped to go down-to-the-wire.

But BaliPure enjoys a big psychological edge over Creamline in their best-of-three semis series as the Water Defenders toppled the Cool Smashers their two meetings in the elims of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

The marquee match at 4 p.m. will not only feature the league’s top two local hitters in Grethcel Soltones and Alyssa Valdez but also a pair of talented imports in Jennifer Keddy and Jaroensri Bualee (BaliPure) and Laura Schaudt and Kuttika Kaewpin.

Valdez emerged the top spiker in the elims but BaliPure was the No. 1 attacking team and No. 2 in blocks while the Cool Smashers lorded it over the field in service.

Bench support will also be crucial with BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb hoping to draw the best from ace setter Jasmine Nabor, Risa Sato, Aiko Urdas and Jorelle Singh while Tai Bundit of Creamline will also pin his hopes on veterans Pau Soriano and Ivy Remulla, Coleen Bravo, Jema Galanza and playmaker Alexis Cabanos as they try to get back at the Water Defenders.

The 6:30 p.m. clash between the Power Smashers and the defending champions is also expected to go the full route with both teams splitting their two faceoffs in the elims.

But while the well-rested Power Smashers boast of two reliable Thai imports in Kannika Tipachot and Hyapa Amporn and top locals Jovelyn Prado, Regine Arocha, and May Guillema, the Lady Warriors are still hoping to field in import replacement Krystal Rivers pending the issuance of her ITC (International Transfer Certificate).

But Michelle Strizak has been dishing out solid games for Pocari, including a tournament-best 40-hit output, and the locals continue to back her with superb games, including Myla Pablo, Jeanette Panaga, Cai Nepomuceno, Gyzelle Sy and Elaine Kasilag.

Meanwhile, Air Force tangles with Army while Cignal battles Sta. Elena at the start of the semifinal round of the men’s side of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.


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