Sudden deaths to decide PVL finalists

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The chase for championship berths in the Premier Volleyball League comes down to a pair of rubber matches today with a promise of another set of down-to-the-wire finishes that have marked the Final Four of the Open Conference.

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BaliPure and Pocari Sweat hacked out a five-setter each over Creamline and Air Force, respectively, on Sunday, setting the stage for what could be a nother pair of thrillers among the league’s top teams at The Arena in San Juan City.

The Lady Warriors and the Lady Jet Spikers dispute the first finals berth at 4 p.m. with the former out to sustain their come-from-behind 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12 victory in Game 2 that kept their drive for a fourth straight championship in the league organized by Sports Vision going.

Pocari Sweat players celebrate after winning the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference crown. The Lady Warriors gun for a spot in the finals as they go up against Philippine Air Force in rubber match of the Open Conference best-of-three semifinal series. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

But the Lady Jet Spikers hope to make the necessary adjustments and re-display the form that powered them to a surprise 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 romp in the opener of their best-of-three series backed by Mikasa and Asics last Saturday.

Air Force coach Jasper Jimenez believes he’s got what it takes to stop three-time champion Pocari in its quest for another title crack although he hopes his veteran crew will endure the pressure not only from the Lady Warriors but also from the crowd.

Expect Air Force to bank on its vaunted quick-set play anchored on tall Dell Palomata and setter Wendy Semana with Iari Yongco, Mary Ann Pantino, Joy Cases and Jocemer Tapic ready to provide firepower from both sides.

But momentum is on the side of the Lady Warriors with coach Rico de Guzman pinning his hopes on Myla Pablo, Jeanette Panaga, Elaine Kasilag and Desiree Dadang and setter Gyzelle Sy.

Creamline, on the other hand, is hard-pressed to rebound from its 19-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-18, 13-15 loss to BaliPure with the Cool Smashers now beginning to miss the services of top gun Alyssa Valdez, particularly in a nerve-wracking ending.

They actually bucked the absence of the league’s two-time MVP and pulled off a 25-19, 13-25, 28-26, 18-25, 15-7 squeaker in Game One but the Water Defenders came away with that series-tying in a gut-wrenching endgame win to head to their sudden death at 6:30 p.m. brimming with confidence.

Meanwhile, Cignal TV and Mega Builders start their best-of-three playoff for the men’s crown at 1 p.m. after the 10 a.m. duel for third between Air Force and Sta. Elena.

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