Pocari Sweat rallies from a set down to frustrate BaliPure and bag inaugural PVL crown
Pocari Sweat celebrates after capturing the PVL Reinforced Conference crown. Dante Peralta

POCARI Sweat came from a set down to turn back BaliPure, 20-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19, and clinch the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference title on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.

Coming from a disappointing loss in Game Two, 15-25, 24-26, 26-24, 26-24, 13-15, American imports Krystal Rivers and Michelle Strizak with veteran Myla Pablo sparked the scoring run for the Lady Warriors, who bagged their third title after joining the league last year. 

Rivers finished with 27 points, Finals MVP Pablo delivered with 16 markers, while Best Import Strizak added 10.

“(Sabi ko sa kanila) magkakapareho lang tayo ng skills, but more ang championship experience namin ang magdadala sa amin over the hump,” said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella.

“So it's a good thing na nag-rally ‘yung mga bata sa ganoong pep talk ko,” he added. “Hat's off also sa dalawa naming imports, they gave it all.”

Pocari Sweat shut the door on BaliPure with 13 total rejections compared to the Water Defenders’ three blocks in the match that took an hour and 42 minutes to finish.

The Lady Warriors added another trophy to their collection after winning the Open and Reinforced Conferences in the V-League last year. They also extended the drought on the Water Defenders, who fell short in another championship run in three conferences.

It was a tough road for Pocari Sweat, which started the tournament with back-to-back losses before it finally got back on its feet with six straight wins.

Pocari Sweat played with only one import in the round robin quarterfinals after Bosnian reinforcement Edina Selomovic was ruled out of the tournament due to a torn hamstring on her right leg, while Pablo had to sit out for two games after suffering from back spasms.

The Lady Warriors, however, had a back-up plan and immediately tapped the services of Rivers but she was not allowed to play until the best-of-three Finals series due to lack of clearance from the International Volleyball Federation.

Pocari Sweat won the series opener, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24.

American import Jennifer Keddy and Thai reinforcement Jeng Bualee each had 13 points for BaliPure, while former San Sebastian ace Gretchel Soltones added 11 markers and 21 excellent receptions. 

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