Suffering from a disheartening two-game slide, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors regained their confidence, forcing a do-or-die Game Three with a five-set triumph over the Bali Pure Purest Water Defenders 25-23, 14-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-8 in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference semifinals at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Neither team gained a significant lead in the first set, exchanging share of a slippery two-point lead. Knotted at 20, Pocari found points from Desiree Dadang and Myla Pablo to gain a 23-21 lead. Pablo exchanged hits with Alyssa Valdez to pull the Lady Warriors to 24-23. After a timeout, Pocari luckily converted a botched combination play to escape with the early lead.
Bombing Pocari’s backrow with loaded serves, Bali Pure rebounded quickly in the second set. The Purest Water Defenders raced to a 16-7 lead then finished the Lady Warriors off with three straight Valdez service aces then a Soltones block in the last points.
The third set came down to the wire. Pocari managed to build a 20-16 lead thanks to hits from Pablo. But the lead quickly evaporated after Pocari’s errors and botched passes piled on, allowing Jem Ferrer to tie the set, 20-all, wit an ace. It was then Bali Pure’s turn to surrender errors with Grethcel Soltones and Valdez failing to get their hits across the net, leading to a 24-20 Pocari advantage. After a timeout, Bali Pure managed to rattle off three straight points but a Janine Marciano service error buoyed Pocari to a 2-1 sets lead.
After leading the fourth set 5-0, Bali Pure seemed well on their way to forcing a fifth set. Pocari, however, mustered a rally to rip another deadlock all the way to a 21-all stalemate. Jump serve savant Dzi Gervacio took over the late game, muscling in strong serves that coaxed free balls which Bali Pure turned into a set-clinching 4-0 run.
Pocari wrestled away control of a tight fifth set to punctuate their win. Heading into the court switch with a slim 8-7 lead, the Lady Warriors willed themselves to take seven of the last eight points off tremendous play from Michele Gumabao and Pablo.
“We had to prove na kaya din namin sila talunin. I’m just really happy that we were able to execute the instructions,” said an elated Pocari head coach Rommel Abella. “Sa Game Three, heart na lang yan. Very minor factor na lang ‘yung mga plays.”
Former National U star Myla Pablo led the Lady Warriors with 26 points. Elaine Kasilag added 17 while team captain poured in 12 markers.
Three-time UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez managed 24 markers while NCAA MVP Soltones added 16 points for Bali Pure.
Game Three will be on Monday, 6:00 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Pocari Sweat (3) – Pablo 26, Kasilag 17, Gumabao 12, Dadang 8, Malaluan 5, Sy 1? Fajardo 0, Enclona (L), Gohing (L)
Bali Pure (2) – Valdez 24, Soltones 16, Gervacio 10, Ahomiro 9, Marciano 6, Ferrer 5, Tan 1, Bello 0, De Jesus 0, Tajima 0, Lazaro (L)