Looking down and out for much of Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference, the Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers mustered a surprising effort to cap the elimination round, shocking defending champions Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors in five sets 25-19, 24-26, 25-27, 25-21, 15-6 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Jet Spikers, who were in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, capitalized on a Pocari Sweat side reeling from injuries to key players. With import Edina Selimovic out for the conference and ace hitter Myla Pablo unavailable until the semis, the Lady Warriors relied heavily on American open hitter Michelle Strizak to carry the offensive load.
The rest of the Lady Warriors, however, failed to provide to scoring support. Strizak’s clutch hitting allowed Pocari Sweat to escape the second and third sets by a narrow margin. But by the fourth set, the American was notably gassed.
Air Force sent the match into a decider wherein they proceeded to dominate the Lady Warriors, taking an 11-5 lead and never looking back.
University of Illinois product, Strizak produced a league-tying record 40 points but was the only Lady Warriors who scored in double digits as Jeanette Panaga and Elaine Kasilag, two of Pocari’s best locals, had just eight and seven points, respectively.
“Nakakapagod na kasi matalo. Siyempre, lagi kang naghahanda, lagi kang naghahanap ng paraan manalo, nakaka-down talaga na hindi ka makakapag-produce ng panalo,” said Air Force head coach Jasper Jimenez.
“Pero sobrang proud ako kasi pinakita ng team ngayon na hindi sipa susuko. ‘Yun din kasi nawala sa amin the past seven games. Pinakita nila ‘yung attitude ng Air Force,” the mentor furthered.
Thai import Patcharee Saengmuang led Air Force with 27 points while veteran Joy Cases added 21.
The Lady Jet Spikers enter the quarterfinals after finishing the eliminations with a 2-8 slate.
Pocari Sweat fell to a 6-4 record and still await the results of the matches today to see if they make the semis outright or get sent to the grueling quarterfinals round-robin.
Air Force (3) – Saengmuang 27, Cases 21, Tapic 12, Yongco 11, Antipuesto 4, Semana 3, Andaya 0, Mabbayad 0, Pantino 0, Abanto (L), Balmaceda (L)
Pocari Sweat (2) – Strizak 40, Panaga 8, Kasilag 7, Nepomuceno 7, Dadang 6, Cainglet-Cayetano 4, Sy 3, Gohing (L)
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