Stopping Alyssa Valdez key to Pocari Sweat title romp, says Michele Gumabao
Michele Gumabao and the Lady Warriors had a faltering start but went on to finish strong in Game Two of the finals. Jerome Ascano 

POCARI Sweat’s run to the Reinforced Conference title this time was strong and smooth, unlike in the V-League Open when the Lady Warriors had to claw back from a match down to win the championship series in three.

But skipper Michele Gumabao said they did nothing special in this title showdown, but they made sure to limit Customs’ scoring as well as inspirational leader Alyssa Valdez.

“I think we just focused on her because she was the one who brought her team up,” said Gumabao.

[See Pocari Sweat beats Air Force in do-or-die game to win V-League title on first try]

The Lady Warriors held Valdez to just 12 hits in their three-set win in the opener of the tite series, and only 10 in the second match, after the former Ateneo star averaged 19 points in the elims and semis to earn conference MVP honors.

The ploy to shackle Valdez actually seemed to have backfired in the second match as Thai reinforcement Kanjana Kuthaisong came away with a season-high 32 hits. Customs kept it close in the fourth, only to lose it all on miscues in the endgame.

“We focused on defending her (Valdez) that we forgot about Kuthaisong, who played her best game,” said Gumabao. “But we found a way to win and the fourth set was a test of character for us.”

[See Pocari Sweat holds off Customs fightback to win second straight V-League title]

Pocari matched the feat of PLDT, which last year also won the Open and Reinforced Conference titles. The company did not put up a team this season.

The Lady Warriors went on to win 10 straight matches after dropping a five-setter to the Air Force Jet Spikers in their opening match.

They took the top seeding in the Final Four and dominated the import-less UST side to seal a dream showdown with Alyssa Valdez and the Transformers.

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