The Pocari Sweat-Air Force Lady Warriors played their best overall match of the season, sweeping the top-seeded Creamline Cool Smashers to open the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference semifinals, 25-23, 25-12, 25-23, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Trailing 11-16 in the first set, Pocari Sweat slowly inched back, eventually forcing a 23-all tie. From there, Myla Pablo and Arielle Love drew up the finishing touches to complete the Lady Warriors’ comeback.
The Lady Warriors dominated the second, grabbing a quick 20-11 lead and never looking back. The third set saw the defending champs pull away from a 10-all deadlock to forge a 16-12 cushion. Pocari Sweat translated that lead into several match points, 24-21. The Cool Smashers mustered a late rally, coming within one, 24-23, but Love earned a crucial block on Alyssa Valdez to cap the match.
Love topped the Lady Warriors with 20 points off 15 attacks, four blocks, and an ace, while fellow import Maddie Palmer managed 12 markers. The pair personified Pocari Sweat’s dominance at the net, as they out-blocked Creamline, 13-3.
“Si Love, honestly, galing pa ‘yan sa sakit,” said Pocari Sweat-Air Force head coach Jasper Jimenez about his reinforcement. “Talagang pinakita niya ‘yung love niya, ‘yung puso niya para sa laro kanina kahit dehydrated na siya at pinupilikat parehong binti niya.
“Siguro pumabor nga sa amin na nakailang laro kami sa quarters na dikdikan, tapos sila medyo matagal sila nakapahinga,” added Jimenez.
Alyssa Valdez topped Cool Smashers with 16 points. Laura Schaudt, who replaced Katarina Asceric as import, debuted with just one point.
Game Two will be on Wednesday at the same venue.
Pocari Sweat-Air Force (3) – Love 20, Palmer 12, Pablo 9, Panaga 9, Palomata 3, Semana 3, Yongco 1, Racraquin 0, Tempiatura (L), Balmaceda (L)
Creamline (0) – Valdez 16, Kaewpin 6, Gumabao 5, Sato 3, Morado 3, Galanza 3, Shaudt 1, Mandapat 1, Bravo 0, Atienza (L), Gohing (L)