Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Four Reasons why you should PVL semi-finals Game 3

Four Reasons why you should PVL semi-finals Game 3
by rick olivares

The Premier Volleyball League Open Conference has reached a Game Three in the semi-finals match-ups. All the matches have been exciting and you can be sure the final game will be even more intense.

Here are four reasons why you should watch.

There is more to the Cool Smashers than Alyssa Valdez.
Any time you have a weapon of mass destruction like Alyssa Valdez, you can compete and contend. Their initial composition might have been somewhat have had an imbalance yet they competed all the way. In this second PVL conference, they swept the preliminaries. Won their first semis match versus BaliPure. They won four consecutive matches without Valdez. If you ask me that underscores their strength.

Who said that Mary Jean Balse is over the hill? She’s crafty as ever. Ivy Remulla who along with Balse played for the national side for a while is dangerous in spot play. You simply cannot discount their game intelligence and experience.

And Cesca Racraquin has really blossomed under Anusorn Bundit who is working his magic again. If I may digress for a moment, San Beda ought to treat Bundit out for a Thai dinner. If so, I recommend Krung Thai in Marikina.

And for the first time since Pau Soriano teamed up with Valdez (dating back to their Bureau of Customs stint last year), she is playing really well. You can actually chalk that up to Jia Morado (and the addition of libero Angela Nunag). Easily the best midseason acquisition by any ballclub in the PVL. Jia simply makes them go.

All right they lost to BaliPure in the second match of their series. But that doesn’t change anything. They are still a very good team.

Will BaliPure finally get over the hump?
One of the best stories of the year. Formed out of desperation. Not enough personnel but they made it to the Reinforced Conference Finals where they fell to the dynastic Pocari Lady Warriors. Now, the Purest Water Defenders put themselves in a position to advance to the finals once more.

They have struggled without that strong presence in the middle as Jennifer Keddy has taken her game to Germany in this non-import conference. Macy Mendiola has done well in spot duty to aid Risa Sato. Irish Oliveros has chipped in as well. But it’s fine if you platoon them as long as they produce because this team has serious problems when Risa Sato is out of it.

You have to like the mid-season addition of Angelica Cayuna too. Head coach Roger Gorayeb says that playing Cayuna alongside Jasmine Nabor hasn’t worked but in my opinion that it needs time to work because they are first time teammates.

The problem with BaliPure is their finishing kick. They race to big leads but surrender them in a huff. They take asset them mysteriously step off the gas pedal in the next. Following their loss in Game One against CCS, Gorayeb pointed out their tendency to give up points with astonishing speed. But he told them to dispel thoughts of their loss quickly as they had a game to play. They sent the series to a no tomorrow game. Now we will see what they are really made of as we’re not really sure about the composition of this team in the next club conference (the PVL’s next is collegiate) so is there an air of finality? Is that the time is now?

Any news that PAF is dead is exaggerated.
At the start of this PVL season, we heard firsthand from some volleyball cognoscenti and coaches how the Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers were too old. Far removed from their glory days. Not enough spare parts (recruits) or even benefits.

During a conversation with PAF head coach Jasper Jimenez to start the PVL season, he said that he is banking on his girls’ collective pride and discipline to pull them through. And if there is a never-say-die squad it is this military team.

The military teams used to be the feeder for the national team. Since the explosion in popularity of volleyball, their influence has greatly diminished. But you know the saying about soldiers – they don’t die. They fade away. But these Jet Spikers aren’t fading.

And the ultimate underdogs in this conference are a game away from a return to the finals.

Will the Lady Warriors get a chance to extend their reign?
Easily the cream of the PVL in the past two seasons. They have changed parts here and there (with a few constants such as Desiree Dadang, Gyzelle Sy, and Myla Pablo) but they keep winning. They have wavered a bit this conference but they are still in a great position to make it back to their fourth consecutive finals in the league.

When the chips are down, it would be hard to bet against this team that has so much championship verve and experience.

They were down a match, and then a set to PAF. But they came back to extend the series. That’s their championship experience there. The thing about the Lady Warriors, you have to knock them out early. Give them a sliver of hope they tear it wide open and find their second wind.

Now they have their confidence back and that is dangerous.

Game Three is slated for Wednesday, August 9, at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

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