AIR Force and Pocari Sweat try to come out strong coming off a long break as they slug it out in the opener of their best-of-three title series for the Shakey's V-League Season 13 Open Conference crown at the Philsports Arena in Pasig Wednesday.
The Lady Jet Spikers swept the Laoag Power Smashers in their semis face-off, while the Lady Warriors needed to rally from 0-1 down with a sweep of the last two games to eliminate Alyssa Valdez and the BaliPure Water Defenders in their side of the Final Four.
Air Force, starring Judy Ann Caballejo and Joy Cases, will be coming into the 6 p.m. encounter oozing with confidence, having beaten Pocari, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-15, in their lone elimination round clash last June 27 to clinch the top seeding in the semis.
"I do think so, considering Air Force beat us in our first meeting," said Pocari interim coach Rommel Abella when asked of the odds in the title series of the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
The match will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and via livestream on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Meanwhile, BaliPure and Laoag clash in their own series for third at 4 p.m.
But Air Force mentor Jasper Jimenez disagreed, saying Pocari is packed with a talent-laden roster led by former collegiate stars Myla Pablo of National U and Michele Gumabao and Melissa Gohing of La Salle. He added that the Lady Warriors have been around and active in the local circuit for quite sometime.
Air Force, in contrast, is just back in the big league after a two-year hiatus.
"I still believe we're the underdogs considering that they have star players and they're more intact and experienced than us," said Jimenez, whose Lady Jet Spikers have achieved their best finish since they joined the league a decade ago before taking a two-year leave of absence in 2014.
Meanwhile, Air Force shoots for the clincher while Cignal goes all-out for a rubber match in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Open Conference Finals as they tangle at 2 p.m. in Game Two of their own best-of-three showdown.
The Jet Spikers routed the HD Spikers, 25-19, 25-16, 25-19, in the series’ opener last July 3 before the league where it all started took a break to give way to the FIBA Manila OQT staging.
It was Cignal’s first defeat after sweeping the elims in five games and the Sta. Elene Wrecking Balls in the semis.
Power-spiking Fauzi Ismail and Howard Mojica, who played college ball for National U and Emilio Aguinaldo, respectively, keyed Air Force's Game One win as they combined for 32 points, 27 of which came on kills.
"They're a big addition to the team," said Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo of Ismail and Mojica.
While Air Force will come with an intact roster, Cignal will be without Ysay Marasigan, who is with Ateneo competing in the ongoing ASEAN University Games in Singapore.
Sta. Elena and Instituto Estetico Manila tangle in their own series for third at 11 a.m.