Pocari Sweat recalled its fierce form in the fifth set and got back at Hair Fairy Air Force, 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12, to force a sudden death for the other finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
The Lady Warriors nearly squandered a 9-5 lead in the decider but leaned on their champion-ship experience and poise to out-steady the Lady Spikers and pound out the hard-earned victory that kept them on track for a crack at a fourth straight championship.
Jeanetta Panaga and Myla Pablo delivered in the clutch, combining for the Lady Warriors’ last six points with the former finishing off the Lady Jet Spikers with a check ball off a quick attack to level their best-of-three semi-final series.
The former St. Benilde ace earlier scored on back-to-back hits to shatter the nine-all count then added another off a poor Air Force receive while Pablo scored on a drop shot and on a kill block off Iari Yongco that made it 14-10.
But Air Force, which surprised the three-time champion, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21, in the opener late Satur-day, refused to give up and pulled to within, 12-14, only to be thwarted by the Lady Warriors’ quick attack.
“The team just refused to lose. We were really determined to play another game,” said Pocari coach Rico de Guzman, whose wards shrugged off a 1-2 set deficit to stay alive.
Pablo, a strong candi-date to win this conference’s MVP award, said it was a team effort.
“We just kept the faith and showed teamwork,” said Pablo.
They dispute the other championship berth in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision on Wednes-day.
Creamline, which edged BaliPure, 25-19, 13-25, 28-26, 18-25, 15-7, in their side of the Final Four, was gunning for the first finals seat at presstime.
Pablo finished with 22 hits, including 20 attack points, while Panaga wound up with 18 markers, inclu-ding three blocks and three aces.
Elaine Kasilag backed them up with 12, the last two giving Pocari a four-point lead at 9-5 in the fifth.
Air Force, which beat Pocari in spikes, 56-53, drew double-digit outputs from five players with Dell Palomata firing away 14 hits, veteran Joy Cases adding 13 points, Yongco and Mary Ann Pantino producing identical 12 markers and Jocemer Tapic chipping in 10 points.
Earlier, Cignal TV and Mega Builders forged a duel of the top two teams for the men’s crown in the league backed by Mikasa and Asics as they repeated over their rivals to sweep their respective best-of-three semis series.
The top seeded HD Spikers downed the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20, while the Volley Bolt dethroned the Air Force Jet Spikers, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24.
Game One of the Finals, another best-of-three affair, starts Wednesday.