POCARI Sweat-Air Force’s Jeanette Panaga proved that she is one of the top blockers in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference as she has been anchoring the net defense of her team in their three-game winning streak.
The league’s three-time Best Blocker finished with nine points providing five of the team’s 13 blocks to deliver the Lady Warriors’ third win in four games courtesy of a 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 victory over Adamson-Akari Lady Falcons on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
And none other than Pocari Sweat-Air Force head coach Jasper Jimenez praised Panaga.
“Panaga is the best blocker (in the league). May titulo na ‘yan si Jeanette. Maganda naman ang chemistry nila ni Wendy (Semana) may timing ‘yun lang,” said Jimenez referring to the connection of Panaga to setter Semana.
In fact, Jimenez used Panaga’s well-timed blocking as the best example for young blocker Del Palomata, who was inspired and finished with the same production of nine hits off five blocks.
“Pinakita ni Panaga kay Del habang nasa labas si Del ‘yung timing,” the Lady Warriors coach said. “Sabi ko ganyang ang timing. Hindi porket humahabol ka, tatalon ka na agad. Tignan mo muna ‘yung kamay nung hahabulin mo na blocker. Nakita niya (Palomata) naadapt niya naman, sunod sunod na ‘yung block niya tapos lumayo na kami.”
Panaga, the former NCAA Finals Most Valuable Player, who delivered the first indoor volleyball title of College of Saint Benilde in NCAA Season 91, was flattered with the trust given by her coach, making her more inspired to deliver every game.
“Si coach Jasper sobrang tiwala lang din sa akin, then every game din naman nagmamindset ako na kailangan as a middle blocker kailangan every game may mapakita ako sa blocking,” Panaga said. “Sa tiwala at kumpiyansa niya sa akin ‘yun siguro ‘yung nakakapagboost ng morale ko na every day gagawin ko ‘yung best ko para mapakita sa kanila kung sino ba talaga ako.”
Panaga and the Lady Warriors overcame a hump - a openign-game loss to Ateneo-Motolite, but won three in a row with back-to-back wins over Petro Gazz and Iriga-Navy including this recent conquest over Adamson-Akari.
“After matalo sa Ateneo, every game ang iniisip namin mas malessen pa namin ‘yung errors namin sa loob and ‘yung communication talaga namin is importante,” she said. “Sinasabi ni coach na pag gumana talaga yung net defense namin tsaka yung floor defense namin lalabas talaga yung game namin.”
But Panaga insisted that it’s still a long way to go for them, as she seeks to bring back the title to Pocari after two conferences of drought.
“Uhaw kami sa championship lalo na para sa Air Force parang hindi pa sila nakaano ng champion then sa amin sa Pocari parang nawala sa amin yung crown so ayun. Gusto namin talaga mabalik,” she said. “Una pumasok muna kami ng semis, then after semis target namin is makapasok ng Finals and champion ibabalik namin yung crown sa amin.”