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BaliPure and Pocari on a SVL collision course
by rick olivares
The BaliPure Purest Water Defenders and the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors are on a collision course in the Reinforced Conference of the Shakey’s V-League.
While the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses are leading the league with a 5-1 record (with one match left to play against Pocari), the two American-reinforced squads are fast catching up after losing their initial assignments.
Pocari lost their first game to Philippine Air Force in five sets while BaliPure fell apart after taking the first set from UST; eventually dropping in four sets.
Since then both teams have gone on win with Pocari second to UST in the standings at 4-1 while the latter is at 3-1.
The two squads were tabbed to create a rivalry in the Shakey’s V-League with both squads lined up with former college and semi-pro stars. They met in semifinals of the Open Conference that Pocari won. However, that budding competition was somewhat diluted when BaliPure lost Alyssa Valdez to Bureau of Customs while Grethcel Soltones and Alyssa Eroa decamped to the Laoag Power Smashers. Janine Marciano in the meantime went to Cignal. That’s three of the starting six and essentially their scoring sock.
BaliPure addressed the power loss by bringing in Sue Roces and Sasa Devanadera. The former is far from her superb form that made her one of the most sought after guest players after her collegiate days with UE were over while Devanadera has yet to be sent in by coach Tai Bundit.
American imports in setter Kaylee Manns and open spiker Kate Morrell who have providing scoring, defense, playmaking, and leadership have greatly plugged the holes that opened up by the defections.
Manns and Morrell have fit in quite well more so since Bundit goes to a smaller rotation.
Morrell is the fourth best scorer while Manns is tops in setting and is second best among scoring setters (Chie Saet has 28 points to the American’s 26 but only because the former’s squad has played two more matches than BaliPure). Libero Denden Lazaro is the best receiver as off the last playdate.
On the other hand, Pocari Sweat’s American duo of middle blocker Andrea Kacsits and open spiker Breanna Mackie have taken away some of the playing time of Desiree Dadang and Elaine Kasilag who were crucial components during the Lady Warriors’ run to the Open Conference Championship earlier this year. However, that hasn’t dampened their scoring as they lead the league in spiking.
Both squads have aggressive setters in the Purest Water Defenders’ Manns and the Lady Warriors’ Iris Tolenada. The 5’10” Manns has also been superb with her drop shots and net defense while the 5’8” Tolenada is ranked sixth among setters. But she has picked up her game with blocking and digging.
Each side’s open spiker is one of the top offensive players in the league.
Both Morrell and Mackie are tied with 85 points each – good for fourth and fifth – but the former is ranked higher because her side has a game in hand.
Pocari though has a deeper side with their talented leader Michele Gumabao, explosive Myla Pablo, Erika Alkuino who has cracked the rotation, and reliable Melissa Gohing. They also have another superb setter in Gyzelle Sy who led them during their Open Conference championship but has been supplanted by Tolenada this conference.
POC head coach Rommel Abella also has another pretty good libero in Rica Enclona who performed very well when Gohing went out in the UP game.
One can’t say that even with BaliPure lacking some stars they aren’t good. They are definitely looking like contenders. And the two sides will square off this coming Saturday, October 9, at 4pm once more at the Philsports Arena. And the way things are going now, they could possibly meet each other come the knockout rounds.