Without its towering spiker Dell Palomata, Air Force looked like David going up against Goliath in Pocari Sweat in the last elimination-round game of the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference.
On Monday night, however, the Jet Spikers shocked the Lady Warriors with a barrage of service aces—a total of 15— which completely disrupted the opponents’ plans of ending the elimination round unscathed to snatch the #1 spot in the rankings.
Talking about the 25-20, 17-25, 22-25, 15-25 loss, Pocari’s Melissa Gohing admitted that she and the rest of her teammates came to the war unarmed.
“Off kami maybe because hindi namin masyado napag-aralan ‘yung kalaban namin. Hindi kami prepared,” she told FOX Sports. “Nagugulat kami sa mga pangyayari. ‘Yun ‘yung nakikita ko sa mga mata ng mga teammates ko.”
Also taking into account the 5-set thriller they went through against Bali Pure just two days ago, Gohing adds: “One of the reasons din ‘yung fatigue kaya hindi kami maka-abante kasi medyo pagod pa.”
Though Pocari’s Myla Pablo, Elaine Kasilag and Michele Gumabao finished in double digits, they were outclassed by the balanced scoring of Air Force which had Jocemer Tapic, Joy Cases, Judy Caballejo and May Ann Pantino combining for a massive 60-point output.
For the former La Salle star, her team’s faulty reception ultimately paved the way for the Jet Spikers to zoom out of reach.
“Ang dami kasing lapses sa blocking namin. Sa receive din dun kami nadale. Okay naman ‘yung laro namin sa first 2 sets. Ang ganda nung lamang. Tapos nung sa receive, dun lumakas ‘yung loob nila,” she said.
Due to the loss, Pocari slipped to #2 which set the team up for a semis showdown against third seed Bali Pure, the same team that almost swept the squad in the first round.
At this point, however, there is no other choice for the Lady Warriors but to look at the bright side.
“Huge weight off our back kasi being on top is very hard. May pressure kami kasi we have everything to lose. ‘Yun ‘yung pasan namin kaya mas nag enjoy ‘yung kalaban,” Gohing shared.
“Laban pa rin. At least ito, maaga na nangyari sa amin na natalo kami na masama lahat ang laro para maka-recover kami agad. We learned from our mistakes,” she added.
What many fans hoped to be the finals matchup will now have to happen a little earlier as the Lady Warriors and the Purest Water Defenders slug it out to get a chance to fight for the crown in the last round.
Looking at preventing another slow start against Alyssa Valdez and company, Gohing said a proper warmup would do wonders for the team.
“We need better warmup kasi ang tagal naming natengga dahil we were waiting for the NCAA to finish,” she said, talking about the slight delay in the game last Saturday. “Maaga kaming nag warmup tapos natengga kami. Sumasayaw-sayaw lang kami at ang hirap nun. Bawal kasi kami mag warmup ulit kasi baka mapagod kami.”
“Hopefully, we’ll have a better game,” she added. — By Mac Dionisio