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Semis race heats up in ‘Premier’ tilt

Games Today
1 p.m. – Sta. Elena vs Army (men’s)
4 p.m. – Pocari Sweat vs Air Force (women’s)
6:30 p.m. – Perlas vs Creamline

Pocari Sweat seeks to rebound from a shaky elims finish while Creamline hopes to check a rollercoaster campaign as they kick off their semifinal drive against equally tough rivals in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today.

The Lady Warriors dropped their last two matches in the double-round elims and lost to the Power Smashers in the tiebreak for the second and last outright semifinal berth, falling to the cutthroat quarterfinal phase among four teams of equal strength.

They face the resurgent Air Force Jet Spikers for the second time in three days, raring to get back at their tormentors, who pulled off a shock 25-19, 24-26, 25-27, 25-21, 15-6 victory last Thursday that foiled Pocari Sweat’s bid for an automatic semis seat.

With the Power Smashers blanking first qualifier BaliPure and the Cool Smashers stopping the Perlas Spikers in the other final elims matches, the former took the other semis seat with a superior point ratio than the Lady Warriors.

But Pocari is all set to rebound in their 4 p.m. encounter with Air Force although the Lady Warriors hope to suit up local ace Myla Pablo and buck the absence of import Edina Selimovic, who is out with a hamstring tear.

Creamline, meanwhile, is also all primed up for a repeat over Perlas in their 6:30 p.m. clash after the Cool Smashers got back at the Perlas Spikers in four, also last Thursday.

The quarters is a single round robin phase among four teams, making each game crucial with the top two joining BaliPure and the Power Smashers in the Final Four of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.

Games can be viewed live via livestream on www.sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream.

While Pocari is out for a payback, Air Force hopes to finally prove its true worth after a streak of sorry setbacks in the elims with coach Jasper Jimenez upbeat of their chances with Thai Pacharee Saengmuang now in the groove with locals Joy Cases, Jocemer Tapic, Iari Yongco, Mae Antipuesto and veteran playmaker Wendy Semana.

But the Lady Warriors are also out to check their skid although import Michelle Strizak, who unloaded a tournament-best 40 hits but still lost the last time out, will need a lot of local support with Selimovic out of the roster and Pablo remains a doubtful starter with a sore back.

That should motivate the likes of Shola Alvarez, Jeanette Panaga, Maricar Nepomuceno and Desiree Siemens to step up and keep the Lady Warriors’ title-retention bid going.

Creamline, on the other hand, hopes to build momentum from its recent win over Perlas with Alyssa Valdez now drawing solid backup from reinforcements Kuttika Kaewpin and Laura Schaudt along with locals Pau Soriano, Coleen Bravo, Jema Galanza and Aurea Racraquin.