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Gutsy Pocari Sweat stays alive

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Tiebreaker Times Gutsy Pocari Sweat stays alive News PVL Volleyball  Rico De Guzman Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors Myla Pablo Melissa Gohing Joy Cases Jeanette Panaga Jasper Jimenez Gyzelle Sy Dell Palomata Air Force Jet Spikers 2017 PVL Women's Open Conference 2017 PVL Season

Not new to adversity, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors clawed their way out of near-elimination and stayed alive in the Women’s Open Conference semifinals, sneaking past the Hair Fairy-Air Force Lady Jet Spikers, 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Coming off a straight-set loss in Game One, the Lady Warriors saw their season flash before their eyes after going down 1-2 in sets in Game Two.

Seeing his squad fall due to a sloppy mis-reception in the last point of set three, Pocari Sweat head coach Sgt. Rico De Guzman urged his wards to show some fight and their championship pedigree.

“Tatlong beses na kami nagcha-champion, ilang beses na kami naglalaro sa semifinals. Pero hindi pang semifinals ‘yung pinapakita namin,” De Guzman remembered telling the Lady Warriors before the fourth set.

“May mga mental lapses kami na pwede naman talaga naming maiwasan pero parang ang bilis namin nafru-frustrate. Sabi ko sa kanila maghanap lang sila lagi ng paraan para makatulong sa team. Kung hindi sa atake, pwede naman sa blocking, receive, o depensa,” the Army official added.

A rejuvenated Lady Warriors squad entered the fourth set. With Myla Pablo providing the hits, Pocari Sweat quickly took an 8-4 advantage with Desiree Dadang at the service area. Pocari Sweat kept the lead late, with Air Force coming within two, 21-19. Hair Fairy’s own errors, however, slanted their run and gave Pocari Sweat an opening to force a fifth set.

The three-time champions opened the decider with a 7-4 spurt, but the Lady Jet Spikers salvaged one last run. A Dell Palomata block tied the set at 9 and forced Pocari Sweat into a timeout. With their season on the line, Pocari Sweat went to captain Myla Pablo, who delivered three of their last five points to close the match.

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“Hinahanap ko talaga ‘yung magiging leader. Kailangan namin ng may tutulong pa kay Myla kasi hindi pwedeng sa kanya lang kami pupunta lagi. Kailangan ready lahat sa amin gumawa,” De Guzman added.

Pablo finished with a game-high 22 points, while middle blocker Jeanette Panaga provided 18 points off 12 attacks, three blocks, and three aces.

Palomata topped Air Force’s balanced attack with 14 markers.

The Lady Warriors can move to their fourth straight Finals appearance with a win in the winner-take-all Game Three on Wednesday.

The Scores

Pocari Sweat (3) – Pablo 22, Panaga 18, Kasilag 12, Dadang 8, Nepomuceno 4, Sy 4, Guino-O 1, De Leon 1, Cainglet 0, Parang 0, Gohing (L)

Hair Fairy-Air Force (2) – Palomata 14, Cases 13, Pantino 12, Yongco 12, Tapic 10, Caballejo 5, Semana 1, Abanto 0, Antipuesto 0, Balmaceda (L)

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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