Air Force pulls off come-from-behind win over Pocari Sweat to inch closer to V-League title
Air Force captured Game 1 of the Shakey's V-League finals against Pocari Sweat thanks to the steady play of Joy Cases. Dante Peralta

AIR Force shook off a poor fourth set reception to force a decider and turned back Pocari Sweat, 17-25, 25-20, 15-25, 26-24, 15-11, to take a step closer to the title in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday night.

The Jet Spikers zoomed to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series behind the heroics of veterans Joy Cases and Judy Ann Caballejo.

“Fighting spirit siguro namin talaga ‘yung nagpataas ng morale sa amin kahit na malayo na ‘yung lamang namin is ‘yung pagiging isa namin, pagiging solid namin, ‘yun siguro ‘yung naging key doon sa laro,” said Air Force coach Jasper Jimenez.

The two hard-hitting attackers teamed up in the fifth set to push the lead, 10-6, and widened it to 13-9.

But Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella pressed the panic button, called his final timeout, and his stars Myla Pablo and Michele Gumabao teamed up to cut down their deficit, 11-13.

May Ann Pantino put Air Force at match point, 14-11, before Jocemer Tapic wrecked the defense of three blockers to clinch the victory.

Air Force trailed, 3-11, in the fourth set before the Jet Spikers recovered just in time to extend the match behind Cases and Caballejo.

“Dumaan kami sa butas ng karayom kanina nakita lang namin siguro mas may pundasyon ang training namin at sinwerte kami,” said Jimenez.

Veteran setter Wendy Semana registered all of the team’s 65 excellent sets, while Caballejo and Mary Ann Balmaceda combined for 29 digs. Pantino also had 13 excellent receptions for Air Force in a match that took two hours and 10 minutes to finish.

Gumabao had 22 points for Pocari Sweat, while Pablo had 18, Elaine Kasilag chipped in 17 and Desiree Dadang contributed 11.

Libero Mel Gohing took on the defensive load with 31 digs and 14 excellent receptions, while Gyselle Sy made all of the team’s 60 excellent sets.

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