V-League Final 4 under way

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Pocari’s Michelle Gumabao beats Laoag’s Grethcel Soltones for a tip during their Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference duel at the Philsports Arena.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Pocari’s Michelle Gumabao beats Laoag’s Grethcel Soltones for a tip during their Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference duel at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Pocari Sweat hopes to ride the momentum of its strong elimination round showing as it clashes with University of Santo Tomas in today’s start of the best-of-three semifinals showdown in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

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The Lady Warriors topped the elims with a 6-1 record, capping their six-game win run with a 25-16, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14 victory over the Tigresses last Wednesday, making them the prohibitive favorites in their return match with the España-based squad at 6 p.m.

BaliPure and Customs tangle in the other semis face off at 4 p.m. with Game Two set on Monday and the decider, if necessary, will be played next Wednesday.

The Pocari-UST match will be aired live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 17 or 23 and via streaming on www.sports.abs-cbn.com and via streaming on www.v-league,ph while the BaliPure-Customs clash will be shown on a delayed basis, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

American Bre Mackie has been leading the way for Pocari, norming 19.28 hits, third in the league, and doing most of her damage at the net where she is currently the league’s best in blocking.

“She’s been really playing well,” said Pocari coach Rommel Abella of his power-hitting reinforcement.

The loss to Pocari sent the erstwhile frontrunner UST to No. 4 after the tiebreak with BaliPure and Customs but the Tigresses, the only team without an import among the semifinalists, remain upbeat of their chances.

“We’re here to gain experience but if we can pull off a surprise or two, we’ll take it,” said coach Kungfu Reyes of UST, the winningest school with six championships in the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.

Meanwhile, Alyssa Valdez goes up against her former teammates for a berth in the finals as she leads Customs against BaliPure in a match tipped to go down-to-the-wire.

The Transformers lost to the Purest Water Defenders, 24-26, 21-25, 21-25, last Oct. 12 but have toughened up since then to easily make it to the Final Four.

“We have two liberos now and all the players are doing extra effort to improve our reception and blocking,” said Customs mentor Sherwin Meneses.

Interestingly, the Customs-Bali Pure faceoff will showcase two of the league’s best scorers in Valdez and Katherine Morrell of BaliPure.

Valdez, a former two-time league MVP, norms 19.86 hits, second to Morell’s league-high 21 points.

Meanwhile, Cignal clashes with Champion Supra at 12:30 p.m. and Air Force squares off with Instituto Estetico Manila at 10:30 a.m. in the semifinal round of the Spikers’ Turf Season Two Third Conference, also a pair of best-of-three series.

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