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Pocari Sweat, Air Force for the crown

Game Today (Philsports Arena, Pasig)
6 p.m . – Pocari Sweat vs Air Force

Melissa Gohing

Melissa Gohing

Pocari Sweat and Air Force put a fitting climax to a surprise-filled conference as they slug it out one last time for the Shakeys’ V-League Season 13 Open crown at the Philsports Arena in Pasig tonight.

The Lady Warriors go to their 6 p.m. showdown enjoying the proverbial momentum after pulling off a come-from-behind a 17-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-20 victory last Saturday to force a sudden death in their best-of-three series for the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.

“We showed composure, which was lacking in our previous game,” said Pocari interim coach Rommel Abella, pointing to his wards’ poise, particularly in the second and third sets that was close throughout.

The match will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and on via streaming at www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

Myla Pablo also atoned for her lackluster performance in Pocari’s 25-17, 20-25, 25-15, 24-26, 11-15 defeat in Game One by pumping in 19 hits, the bulk of which she delivered in the last three sets that helped the Lady Warriors stop the Lady Jet Spikers.

“I just want to forget what happened in that game (Game One) and focused on this one (Game One),” said the power-spiking Pablo, who also drew solid back-up from Elaine Kasilag, who had 11 points, Siemens Dadang, Lutgarda Malaluan and skipper Michelle Gumabao, who chipped in seven markers apiece.

But stats, momentum and other factors are often set aside in a rubber match with coaches of both teams expected to come out with surprises to startle the other side’s play-patterns and strategies, guaranteeing a slam-bang action between the best teams in the featured conference seeking their maiden titles in the league where it all started.

It will also be a question of desire and heart, plus hunger with the Lady Jet Spikers also tipped to make the necessary adjustments as they resume their quest for a first-ever Shakey’s V-League crown after a couple of fourth place finishes in 2013 and 2014.

Expect Judy Ann Caballejo to step up after the former UST star, which normed 12 points in the elims to help power Air Force to a surprise top finish, struggled for eight- and six-hit efforts in the first two games of the finals. Caballejo, however, made up for the scoring slack by coming through with 11 excellent digs last Saturday.

May Ann Pantino and veteran Joy Cases remain Air Force’s sources of points off the spikes on both sides with Jocemer Tapic and Mae Antipuesto providing the needed support and skipper Wendy Semana the playmaking chores.

On the other side, focus will still be on Pablo, Gumabao and Kasilag with Malaluan taking charge of the net defense while Melissa Gohing and Gyselle Sy expected to provide the stops and set plays, respectively, for Pocari Sweat, seeking to cap its maiden stint in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel with a championship.