POCARI Sweat has high hopes that its solid local crew along with a pair of power-hitting imports are up to the task for another championship run in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference that kicks off on Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
“We're optimistic of our chances. Our imports have arrived as early as last month and we've conducted team-building activities that strengthened our chemistry. The team is in high spirits,” said coach Rommel Abella, who steered Pocari Sweat to the Open Conference championship on its very first try against Air Force.
Meanwhile, the season-ending conference of the league will be launched at 11 a.m. on Friday at 9501 Restaurant at the ABS-CBN with players and imports of the eight participating teams numbering over 100 gracing the biggest gathering of volleyball talents.
Skipper Michelle Gumabao, the crisp-hitting tandem of Myla Pablo and Elaine Kasilag, Melissa Gohing, Maricar Nepomuceno, Gyzel Sy and Desiree Dadang are all back for another mission with Pocari Sweat also tapping ace setter Iris Tonelada to bolster the team’s rotation.
“Our experience and familiarity with each other will help us. And Iris (Tolenada) has been with us for months to give us another option,” said Abella.
Boosting the team’s bid for another shot at the crown are Andrea Kay Kacsits and Breanna Lee Mackie of the US, whose power and blocking skills make the Lady Warriors the early favorites.
The 6-4 Kacsits is a middle hitter from the Michigan Volleyball Academy while the 6-3 Mackie, a former Central Valley High School star, is an outside/opposite hitter expected to complement with Gumabao, Pablo and Kasilag.
“Our imports are strong and they're what this team needs – added firepower. We're not underestimating other teams but we will shoot for another championship,” said Abella.
Pocari Sweat won’t see action until Tuesday when it plays Air Force but the Lady Warriors can’t wait to get going in the tournament backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
Coast Guard and Laoag clash in the 4 p.m. opener while Air Force and UST tangle at 6 p.m. to be aired live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23. The first match will be shown on a delayed basis although both matches can also be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph.
Six teams, meanwhile, are vying in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference, led by defending champion Air Force. Others in the fold are Cignal, Sta. Elena Construction, Instituto Estetico Manila, Army and newcomer 100 Plus.
Air Force and 100 Plus collide in the lone opening day match at 12:30 p.m.