• Water Defenders edge Smashers in 5-set thriller

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    Pocari’s Michele Gumabao (No. 7) foils Air Force’s May Ann Pantino attack with teammate Siemens Dadang tries to provide help during Game 1 of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference Finals at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Pocari’s Michele Gumabao (No. 7) foils Air Force’s May Ann Pantino attack with teammate Siemens Dadang tries to provide help during Game 1 of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference Finals at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    BaliPure weathered Alyssa Valdez’s absence and Laoag’s tough stand to pound out a 23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11 victory and move closer to a third place finish in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

    Janine Marciano put on a gem of a game and rammed in 23 attacks for a 25-hit output while Gretchel Soltones backed her up with 20 points, including a killer of a spike that snapped the Power Smashers’ last-ditch rally in the fifth set which the Water Defenders dominated after racking up four of the first five points.

    They held sway from there with Amy Ahomiro and Dzi Gervacio joining the attack while pouncing on their rivals’ back-to-back errors that gave the Water Defenders an 11-4 lead.

    The Power Smashers did fight back as skipper Relea Saet came away with a couple of aces and Jessica Galanza scored on a hit that made it 11-14 only to be stopped by Soltones’ hard spike.

    “We got a little bit worried after the match reached the fifth set. But we were able to pull through and I’m happy for the team,” said Marciano, who went on to bag the game’s best player honors.

    BaliPure shoots for third place on Saturday with coach Charo Soriano stressing the need for her wards to toughen up on reception and polish their serves.

    “We have to work on our rotation, service and receive and at the same time adjust on our defensive pattern,” said Soriano.

    Valdez, who fell short of her bid to carry the fancied team to the championship when they lost to the Pocari side in sudden death in the semis, is backstopping the Ateneo team in the Asean University Games in Singapore.

    But Marciano and Soltones and company proved they could get the job done.

    Ahomiro ended up with 12 points while Gervacio chipped in 10 markers and May Tajima and Jem Ferrer combined for 11 points.

    Galanza topscored for Laoag with 16 while Jovielyn Prado had 15 and Mylene Paat and Katherine Villegas added 13 and 10 hits, respectively, for Laoag, which wore down BaliPure in a tight first-set duel but dropped the next two before bouncing back strong in the fourth to send the match into a decider.

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