CUSTOMS and Pocari Sweat clash in a duel of fancied bets with the Transformers seeking at least a playoff for the last semifinal berth and the Lady Warriors out to step up their own Final Four drive in the Shakey's V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference on Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The match set at 6 p.m. will be Alyssa Valdez’s first against Michelle Gumabao and company since the Lady Warriors eased out the former’s Bali Pure squad in the semifinals of the Open Conference.
Pocari Sweat won the crown on its very first try, and the Lady Warriors are all primed up for a crack at another championship in the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
But they’ll be taking a fired-up Valdez and her new team Customs, guaranteeing a fierce, no-holds-barred encounter between two squads, which also boast of talented pair of reinforcements.
Valdez, the league’s leading scorer with 92 hits in four games, has the Thai tandem of Kanjana Kuthaisong and setter Natthanicha Jaisaen to lean on and a solid local crew led by Rose Marie Vargas, Lilet Mabbayad, Rizza Mandapat and Pau Soriano.
The Transformers ended the UST Tigresses’ four-game run with a 25-17, 26-24, 25-21 romp last week for a 3-1 card and a win away from assuring themselves of a playoff for the last semis seat.
Pocari Sweat, on the other hand, totes a 2-1 and in joint third with another title contender Bali Pure, with the Lady Warriors also hoping to ride the momentum of their back-to-back wins over the Coast Guard and UP sides after dropping their opening game to the Air Force Jet Spikers.
"The players have started to get the feel of each other and we hope we'll get better each game," said Pocari coach Rommel Abella, who will again be leaning on their American imports Breanna Mackie and Kay Kacsits.
But focus will be on Valdez, who fired 19 points to power Customs past UST, which incidentally booked the first semis berth in the league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter with a five-set win over Laoag late Wednesday for a 5-1 slate.
In just four games, Valdez has established herself as a strong MVP contender as she averaged 23 hits, highlighted her league-high 39-point performance against Laoag two weeks ago.
The former Ateneo star has shown capable of doing all things needed from her on the court as Valdez is currently second in the scoring department, best in spiking and serving and has shown she could also play defense as she is third in digging.
It is the reason Customs coach Sherwin Meneses is encouraging the team to step up to lessen the load for Valdez.
"Alyssa has been carrying the team when we were playing minus some of our players, but now that we're complete, I hope everyone gets involved," said Meneses.
Bali Pure, meanwhile, likewise seeks to bolster its own semis bid as it collides with a resurgent UP at 4 p.m. to be shown on a delayed basis, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Army and Champion Supra, on the other hand, mix it up at 12:30 p.m. in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Third Conference encounter.
12:30 p.m. – Army vs Champion (S Turf)
4 p.m. – UP vs Bali Pure (V-League)
6 p.m. – Pocari vs Customs (V-League)
Standings W L
UST 5 1
Customs 3 1
Pocari 2 1
Bali Pure 2 1
Laoag 2 3
UP 2 3
Air Force 2 3
Coast Guard 0 5