MANILA, Philippines — Pocari Sweat-Air Force overcame a slow start to turn back Iriga-Navy in four sets and surge to the solo lead in the quarterfinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Import Maddie Palmer took over down the stretch, as Pocari seized a 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22 victory to improve to 2-0 in the single-round quarterfinals.
Only the top two teams at the end of the phase will advance to join Creamline and PayMaya in the final 4 of the Reinforced Conference.
Navy, which opened its quarterfinals campaign with a five-set loss to BaliPure, looked poised to steal the game when they shocked the Lady Warriors in the opening frame – much to the dismay of Pocari coach Jasper Jimenez.
"Ang unang sinabi ko bago mag-umpisa, strong start. Eh kaso, nabaliktad. Parang diesel," he rued. "Siguro, kailangan muna sila masaktan."
The Lady Warriors regrouped in the second frame, utilizing their service game to take Navy's imports out of the equation and tie up the match at one set apiece. They would go on to dominate the third set as well, before fighting off a last-ditch rally by the Navy in the fourth frame.
After a Myla Pablo crosscourt hit made it 23-21 for the Lady Warriors, Cydny Imbo trimmed their deficit to just one, 23-22, with a crosscourt attack of her own.
But Palmer would not be denied in the final two rallies, overpowering the Navy defense to send the Lady Warriors to a second straight win.
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"Sana magtuloy-tuloy itong ganitong performance namin," said Jimenez. "Wala kaming talo, sana magtuloy-tuloy pa."
Palmer scored 19 points, fellow import Arielle Love added 18, and Pablo finished with 14 markers for the Lady Warriors. Pocari scored 61 points off their kills against only 48 for Navy-Iriga.
Setter Wendy Semana earned Player of the Game honors after orchestrating the Pocari offense with 43 excellent sets.
Macy Ubben led Navy with 27 points, while Lauren Whyte added 18 markers. No local player reached double-digits for Navy, which is now at 0-2.
Earlier, Air Force drew 21 points from Fauzi Ismail as the Jet Spikers turned back the Army Troopers, 25-23, 25-17, 27-29, 25-20, to join the PLDT side in the early lead in men's quarterfinals.
Howard Mojica added 16 hits while setter Pitrus de Ocampo produced 46 excellent sets for the Jet Spikers, who will next face the struggling Instituto Estetico Manila side on June 20.
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