In what was the closest match of the season, the Bali Pure Water Defenders fell victim to several Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors comebacks, but had enough left in the fifth set to force a a do-or-die Game Three for the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Championship, 25-15, 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 15-13, Tuesday evening at the PhilSports Arena.
After taking the first two sets, Bali Pure had opportunities in the following frames to close the match. However, the defending champs mustered near-miraculous rallies to keep themselves alive.
“Ilang games na kaming natatalo na last kami. Hahabol kami tapos last kami, matatalo kami. Naulit na naman ngayon, dalawang set pa. Dalawang 24-23 ‘yun, natalo kami ng third set at fourth set,” lamented Bali Pure head coach Roger Gorayeb.
The Lady Warriors received a major boost from Jessey De Leon, who hopped off the bench in the fourth set and scored five points, including the quick hit that capped a 4-0 Pocari Sweat run that forced a fifth set.
The Lady Warriors were in control, leading 9-6, before Macy Mendiola served the Water Defenders back into the match. Bali Pure erased the deficit and took the lead, 12-11. From there, clutch hits from Grethcel Soltones and a block from import Jennifer Keddy pushed Bali Pure to the win.
“Ito ngang fifth set, ‘di ko na alam kung anong gagawin ko kasi ganun na naman. Buti na lang 14-12 ‘yun, ‘yung na-block kay Grethcel. 14-13, last na naman eh. Mahirap,” said Gorayeb with a sigh of relief.
“Nakakatuwa pa rin sila kasi kung ano man ang naging result nun, proud pa rin ako kasi hindi naman kami natalo ng parang kaming mga batang maliliit lang diyan na tinuturan nilang mag-volleyball,” added the only triple-crown champion in V-League history.
Keddy and fellow import Jeng Bualee led Bali Pure with 20 points apiece, while Soltones added 11.
Krystal Rivers mustered 26 points for the Lady Warriors, while Michelle Strizak added 15.
The Water Defenders can end Pocari Sweat’s reign atop the PVL with a win on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Bali Pure (3) – Bualee 20, Keddy 20, Soltones 11, Malabanan 10, Sato 10, Nabor 3, Urdas 3, Pantone (L)
Pocari Sweat (2) – Rivers 26, Strizak 15, Pablo 14, De Leon 9, Panaga 7, Dadang 4, Nepomuceno 3, Espelita 1, Cainglet 0, Sy 0, Gohing (L)