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Battle for last slot

Philippine Air Force May Ann Pantino, spikes the ball during the V-League Volleyball Game match between the Laoag in San Juan Arena on Saturday. (JOHN JEROME GANZON)

Games today (Philsports Arena, Pasig)
1 p.m. – IEM vs. Sta. Elena (S. Turf battle for third)
4 p.m. – Cignal vs. Air Force (S. Turf finals)
6 p.m. – BaliPure vs Pocari Sweat (V-League finals)

Pocari Sweat and BaliPure slug it out one last time tonight, not for the crown but for a crack at it, in what promises to be another thriller of a sudden death for the second championship berth in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

Coaches of first finalist Air Force will surely be on hand to watch and scout these two talented teams which just two nights ago figured in another thrilling five-setter before a big weekend crowd at The Arena in San Juan with the never-say-die Lady Warriors pulling off a 25-23, 13-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-8 squeaker to set up this rubber match for the right to face the Jet Spikers for the crown.

Gametime is at 6 p.m. to be shown live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and via streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

With Myla Pablo upstaging Alyssa Valdez in the fifth set, the Lady Warriors turned back the Water Defenders to force a decider in their best-of-three semifinal series of the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel.

The power-spiking Pablo unloaded a match-best 26 hits, including 23 attack points, as she outshone the highly-fancied Valdez, who had 24 points, 20 of which came on spikes.

Pocari also put up a superb net defense all game with Siemens Dadang and Lutgarda Malaluan combining for seven of the Lady Warriors’ 10 blocks, foiling and frustrating the two-time league and three-time UAAP MVP Valdez.

“We knew BaliPure’s strong points are their outside spikers so we focused on finding a way to slow them down,” said Pocari interim coach Rommel Abella. “In a way, it worked against Alyssa (Valdez). We stopped her in the fifth set.”

Abella also cited the team’s big improvement in service and reception very much unlike in their 20-25, 19-25, 24-26 defeat in Game One where they struggled in both departments, enabling the Water Defenders to fashion out the relatively one-sided victory.

“We concentrated on improving our service and receives and we will need to do it in Game Three for us to have a chance,” said Abella.

Despite the setback, BaliPure player-coach Charo Soriano remains upbeat of their chances but stressed the need for her wards to go back to the basics.

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