The Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors encountered several hurdles that could have tripped them. But adversity only made the two-time champs stronger in vanquishing the Bali Pure Water Defenders in five sets 18-25, 21-25, 26-24, 27-25, 15-13 in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
This was the first match that featured imports and neither side let up, turning their second of the season encounter into a classic.
Bali Pure controlled the first two sets of the match through solid serving and net defense. American Jennifer Keddy and Thai Jeng Bualee made their presence felt and steered the Water Defenders to early lead. The Lady Warriors looked in dire straits midway through the second set when ace Myla Pablo aggravated her back injury and had to be take taken to the hospital to be treated.
Instead of going down easily, the defending champs rose from adversity, toughing out a tight third set and extend the match thanks to clutch transitions. They looked gassed by the fourth set as Bali Pure built a 21-13 lead. But Pocari Sweat rallied back thanks to Kai Nepomuceno’s and Jeanette Panaga’s serving, and Bosnian import Edina Selimovic’s blocking. Down 22-24, Selimovic threw down back-to-back blocks to extend the set. The middle blocker again buoyed Pocari Sweat in the last two points, getting her fourth block of the set them coaxing an error from Grethcel Soltones to send the match to a decider.
Neither team gave way early in the fifth set as both sides traded points. Former NCAA Best Server Shola Alvarez came through for the Lady Warriors as her float serves broke a deadlock and gave the Lady Warriors a 14-12 lead, setting up Elaine Kasilag’s game-winning kill.
“Na-satisfy ako sa effort nila noong huling nga set. Noong nalamangan kami, hindi bumaba ‘yung effort nila, lalo lang umangat,” said Pocari Sweat head coach Rommel Abella.
“Ang maganda sa team ko lagi silang ready kahit may isang mawala sa amin. Hindi basta-basta mawawala ‘yung spirit namin as a team,” the two-time champion mentor added.
Selimovic roused in her debut with 24 points off 17 attacks and seven blocks while American open hitter Michelle Strizak provided an all-around presence with 16 points and 10 digs.
Pocari Sweat avenged their first round loss to the Water Defenders and surged to their fifth straight win in seven outings.
Keddy finished with 21 points off 13 attacks, five blocks and three aces while former league MVP Grethcel Soltones added 18 markers.
The Water Defenders surrendered their place at the top of the standings to Pocari Sweat and settled at second with a 4-2 slate.
Pocari Sweat (3) – Selimovic 24, Strizak 16, Kasilag 13, Panaga 12, Nepomuceno 9, Pablo 1, Sy 1, Alvarez 0, Espelita 0, Gohing (L)
Bali Pure (2) – Keddy 21, Soltones 18, Bualee 17, Sato 8, Nabor 7, Urdas 3, Malabanan 2, Pantone (L)