DEFENDING champion Pocari Sweat moved one win away from a Finals return after surviving Power Smashers, 25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 15-12, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
American import Michelle Strizak led the way for the Lady Warriors with 20 points, while Myla Pablo added 16, Jeanette Panaga chipped in 14 and Desiree Dadang had 13.
The Lady Warriors, who came from a 3-0 romp in the round robin quarterfinals, displayed grit late to take Game One of the best-of-three semifinals series.
“‘Yun nga eh, kaya i-workout natin ang mind setting noong mga players ‘coz sayang eh (lamang two sets then mahahabol),” said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella.
“We don’t have any problems getting the leads. Ang problema is sustaining it at saka kung papaano pa mapapalaki ang lamang,” he added.
Pocari Sweat broke loose from a tied 10-all contest in the third set and took a 13-10 breather before Jovelyn Prado scored and an error from Pablo gave hope to the Power Smashers, 12-13.
Pablo made up for her miscue and pushed the Lady Warriors at match point, 14-13, and an attack error from Thai import Kannika Tipachot sealed the win for Pocari Sweat.
Tipachot made 20 points for the Power Smashers, while Thai reinforcement Hyapha Amporn added 15 and Prado had 14.
Game Two of the semis is on Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena.