With just five playdates left, a wild scramble for the last three semifinal berths looms among six teams in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference Final Four.
Only UST, with an all-Filipio crew, is assured of a spot in the next round with the Tigresses formalizing their stint with a come-from-behind 25-22, 25-27, 18-25, 27-25, 15-12 victory over the Laoag Power Smashers at the Philsports Arena in Pasig late Wednesday for a 5-1 card.
Customs has the inside track for No. 2 with a 3-1 mark but the fancied Transformers, bannered from Alyssa Valdez and two Thai reinforcements, still have to hurdle contenders Pocari Sweat and Air Force in two of the last three matches.
The Pocari Lady Warriors and the BaliPure Water Defenders are in joint third with 2-1 slates but the Laoag Power Smashers, the UP Lady Maroons and Air Force Jet Spikers are just a shade behind at 2-3, guaranteeing a slambang encounter in the homestretch of the single round elims of the season-ending conference sponsored by Shakey’s.
That includes the UP-BaliPure and Pocari-Customs face-offs on Saturday, crucial matches that could either clear up or muddle the semis race in league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
Only Coast Guard, with a 0-5 mark, is out of the race.
Meanwhile, UST continued its amazing run by becoming the first team in the semis, thanks to its gutsy crew led by EJ Laure, Carla Sandoval, Ria Meneses, Alina Bicar, Dominique Pacres, Shannen Palec, Chlodia Cortez and the energetic Cherry Rondina.
Laure poured in a team-best 22 hits, including 21 on spikes, while Meneses and Rondina scattered 14 and 13 points, respectively, against Laoag with UST coach Kungfu Reyes utilizing all but one of his 14-player roster.
Bicar, Pacres and Palec came off the bench to combine for 16 hits, most of which came in the last two sets when the Tigresses turned a one-set deficit into a thrilling victory.
“I keep telling my players to be ready when their number is called,” said Reyes.
In contrast, Laoag relied heavily on the troika of Grethcel Soltones, Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas, who wound up with 27, 19 and 15 points, but lost steam in the final set in the face of the Tigresses’ strong finish.