POCARI Sweat survived University of Santo Tomas’ gallant stand to come out on top from a five-set thriller, 25-17, 24-26, 26-24, 23-25, 15-8, as the veteran team booked a return trip to the Finals in the Shakey's V-League Reinforced Conference at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Monday.
American import Bre Mackie once again led the way with 35 points on 32 kills for the Lady Warriors, who ruled the Open Conference on July.
Pocari Sweat is looking to bag a second consecutive title on its first year of entry in the 13-year old league.
“Syempre happy kasi ‘yung pinaghihirapan namin sa training, ‘yung pinaghandaan namin, ang goal namin malapit na, ito na – nasa Finals na kami,” said Pocari Sweat skipper Michele Gumabao.
“Syempre hindi lang naman goal ang makarating sa Finals, ang goal talaga namin this season is to go back-to-back. So ‘yun ang pinunta namin dito,” she added.
Pocari Sweat bounced back from a 0-2 start to build a 12-6 lead before preserving the win, thanks to some clutch hits by Myla Pablo.
“Medyo nag-relax na kami and good thing nakabawi kami noong fifth set,” said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella. “Kasi sabi ko nga sa kanila going into the fifth set, we’re the more veteran team, we’re the more experienced team. We know how to win the fifth set, we know how to play the fifth set so at least lumabas ang laro namin noong fifth set.”
The Lady Warriors pulled away from a tied contest at 20-all in the fourth set, 22-20, before Mary Pacres and Chloe Cortez closed the gap, 22-22.
Pocari Sweat looked to end the match, 24-23, but EJ Laure and Chloe Cortez sent the match to a decider.
Early in the match, UST mounted a comeback in the third set after trailing, 12-17, and reached set point, 24-23. But Pocari Sweat showed composure and scored three straight points, from Mackie's off-the-block hit and back-to-back blocks on EJ Laure.
Laure finished with 24 points for UST, while Sisi Rondina added 17 and Ria Meneses added 11.
The Tigresses, the only team in the semifinals without an import, will face the loser between Bali Pure and Bureau of Customs in the best-of-three battle for third.