POCARI Sweat dug deep in the fourth set to avoid being dragged into another marathon as it outlasted Bali Pure, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 in Game One of the Premier Volleyball League Finals on Saturday at the Philsports Arena.
A Gyzelle Sy ace put an end to the suspense in a thrilling fourth set as her squad avoided a meltdown after leading comfortably for most of the set.
Looking poised to cruise to the victory after leading early in the fourth, Pocari lost a 15-8 lead midway through as Jang Bualee and Gretchel Soltones started to turn the tide in the Water Defenders' favor.
BaliPure even took a two point lead, 24-22 following a Bualee kiil, but a Soltones error opened the door for the Lady Warriors who came alive on a Krystal Rivers block that tied the game at 24-all.
Surprise substitute Jesse de Leon then quickly made her presence felt as she put her team at match point with a block on Jeniffer Keddy. That set up the stage for Sy’s missile of a service that put the Water Defenders away for good.
“It’s just like what we experienced before sa mga games namin. We don’t have problems getting leads. It’s sustaining leads yun yung kailangan naming i-address,” said Pocari head coach Rommell Abella, who also saw his team struggle in the first set following a run of errors.
"We just need to get back to training, address that mental problems."
Finally eligible after a long wait, Rivers showed that she’s indeed worth the wait as she finished with 20 points on 17 kills to go along with some big plays down the stretch.
Fellow guest player Michelle Strizak added 18 points, Myla Pablo added 16 while Jeanette Panaga scored 12 for the Lady Warriors.
“Masyado kaming tense nung first set kasi makakalaro si Crystal for the first time. I just told them to settle down. Too much energy,” Abella said.
“Hindi pa kami masyadong na-impress (kay Rivers), kasi based sa pina-practice niya samin. May alam kami na ibubuga pa siya.”
Soltones paced Bali Pure with 17 while Bualee added 16 points for the Roger Gorayeb-coached squad.