The Philippine Star

Pocari crushes No. 1 Creamline; BanKo pulls thru

- By KRISTINA VILLANUEVA

Games Wednesday 10 a.m. – Vice Co vs Air Force (men’s) 1:45 p.m. – BanKo-Perlas vs PayMaya (women’s) 3:45 p.m. – Pocari-Air Force vs Creamline (women’s) 6 p.m. – Cignal vs PLDT (men’s)

Defending champion Pocari Sweat-Air Force overpowere­d top seed Creamline, 25-23, 25-12, 25-23, to gain the headstart in their best-of-three semis showdown in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.

Arielle Love bucked cramps in the third set and went on to topscore with 20 points built on 15 hits, four blocks and an ace as the fourthrank­ed Lady Warriors did not allow Creamline to recover on their way to completing the surprise straight-set romp over the top-seeded Cool Smashers.

Pocari Sweat-Air Force thus moved a win closer to the title playoff which it ruled in three over BaliPure in last year’s inaugurals of the league organized by Sports Vision.

But Creamline, coming off a three-week break after making it to the semis outright, will go all-out to force a decider at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday at the same venue.

“I think our advantage is that we played continuous­ly in the quarterfin­als while they came off a long break. We had to go through the eye of a needle to get here. That was our motivation,” said Lady Warriors coach Jasper Jimenez, referring to how third seed BanKoPerla­s gave them a free ride to the semis via the Spikers’ victory over erstwhile contender Petro Gazz Angels last Wednesday.

Third seed BanKo-Perlas relied on Thai Jutarat Montripila in the last two sets as the Spikers sustained their hot run and outdueled No. 2 PayMaya, 25-19, 26-28, 25-23, 25-23, to seize control in their side of the semis series.

Montripila erupted with 31 points, including crucial hits in the third and fourth frames. She also came through with nine digs as BanKoPerla­s rebounded from a second set stumble and inched closer to a dream final seat.

The Spikers thus stretched their win run to eight, counting two in the elims and their sweep of the quarters, while pouncing on the High Flyers who last saw action in the elims after securing one of the two outright seats in the penultimat­e round.

Earlier, Love scored an off-the-block hit for a 13-11 count for the Lady Warriors in the third but left after suffering from cramps.

She returned late in the frame and scored Pocari Sweat-Air Force’s last three points to fend off Creamline’s chase.

“Love just recovered from sickness (fever). That’s why she seemed dehydrated. But she poured her love to the game. She has a fighter’s heart,” said Jimenez.

Love didn’t miss any of the team’s practices despite being sick.

Madeline Palmer backed Love with 12 points while Myla Pablo and Jeanette Panaga punched in nine apiece for the Lady Warriors.

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