PVL: Pocari coach wary of repeated 5-set battles

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Pocari import Michelle Strizak fires an attack against Creamline. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports


MANILA, Philippines – For the fifth time in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors found themselves dragged into a five-set war.

Pocari on Tuesday squandered a two-set lead against Creamline, regaining their form only in the fifth set to finally turn back the Alyssa Valdez-led Cool Smashers, 25-23, 25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-11.

The Lady Warriors improved to 4-1 in five-set matches, but coach Rommel Abella admits the marathon games have become a double-edged sword for his team. They had already paid a price in the elimination round for their five-set matches. While Pocari had the same record as the Power Smashers, 6-4, the latter had a better point ratio than the Lady Warriors, and so they got the outright semis berth.

Pocari, instead, was relegated to the quarterfinals, where they have now played two five-setters, first against Air Force, and now against Creamline.

“Delikado pa nga kami,” Abella said. “Doon kami natalo (noong eliminations), sa quotient lang.”

[We’re still in danger. We already lost due to the quotient.]

For Abella, their victories in five-setters show their character. “I applaud ‘yung mga players kasi mahirap ‘yung nanalo ka ng dalawang set, tapos natalo ka ng dalawang set, kasi ‘yung momentum nasa kabilang team,” he said.

“I applaud their effort, at ‘yung character nila na ayaw nila magpatalo,” he added.

[I applaud the players, because it’s hard to win two sets, then lose two sets. That means the momentum is on the opponents’ side. I applaud their effort and their character, that they don’t want to lose.]

On the other hand, however, he is disappointed that they are unable to finish matches quickly and cleanly.

“Sayang, kasi kung kaya nating tapusin ng tatlong set, bakit ‘di natin gawin?” he asked rhetorically. “Siyempre, ‘yung Creamline, proud team din ‘yan. Gusto rin nila manalo.”

[If we can win in three sets, then why don’t we do it? But of course, Creamline is also a proud team, and they want to win.]

Weighing the pros and cons of such games, Abella settled for saying that these marathon, exhausting matches serve as a good challenge for his team.

“Doon talaga mate-test ‘yung character, not only noong individuals but ng buong team,” he said. “Pero ‘yun nga, kung pwede namang matapos ng three sets or four sets… But it’s a good test of character na lumaro ka ng five sets.”

[That’s where the character of the team is tested. It’s a good test of character to play in five sets.]

Pocari now has a 2-0 record in the quarterfinals phase of the tournament, putting them one step closer towards the semifinals. They will have to hurdle Perlas in their final game on Thursday to avoid any complications regarding the quotient.

“We should put in the effort from the first point hanggang sa last point,” Abella said of that crucial match. “We’re not here to win two games sa quarterfinals. We’re here to win as many games as possible going to the semis, para ang momentum, nasa amin.”

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