July 18, 2016
A V-League of Their Own
The Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors beat the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers, 29-27, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19 Monday night to clinch their first ever Shakey’s V-League championship on their very first conference. It was an epic battle as the two protagonists needed a deciding game to settle the score. In the end, it was Pocari that sweated it out to capture the title.
The victory also capped a Season 13-Open Conference full of highs. And I will mention one by one below what they are.
1. Pocari’s jump to the V-League from the rival Philippine Superliga is providential as it did not only grab a title, it also gained instant heavy exposure from No. 2.
2. The league’s partnership with television giant ABS-CBN is a game-changer. After 13 years of irregular TV broadcast, fans will get to watch all V-League games on free channel (ABS-CBN Sports and Action Channel 23) live plus free, clear livestream on the side. There is a chance that somewhere along the road that the Spikers’ Turf, the V-League’s men counterpart, will also get their fair share of coverage. Just be patient. It will come.
3. If Air Force had won, I would have named this blog Air Force One. But it fell short. Nonetheless, the Lady Jet Spikers were a pleasant surprise after not only making it to the finals for the first time, it also almost won it. I got to give it to these valiant players for fighting the good fight. If I’m the Air Force Commanding General, Lt Gen Edgar R Fallorina AFP, I would be darn proud of them. Wait, Fallorina was actually there to personally congratulate his brave soldiers.
4. Speaking of Air Force, no one really believed it would reach that far considering that its best effort was a pair of fourth place finishes in 2013 and 2014. And Rhea Dimaculangan and Maika Ortiz, the team’s heart and soul, left for greener pastures. But it was a blessing in disguise as players like Wendy Ann Semana, Judy Ann Caballejo, May Ann Tapic, Jocemer Tapic and Joy Cases defied the odds and shamed the doubters with a performance to remember. And by the way, Semana is best setter. Won it against younger, quicker foes.
5. Bali Pure, a team that was tipped to challenge for the title because of Alyssa Valdez and a star-studded cast, ended up clinching third place by sweeping a Nes Pamilar-mentored Laoag City side. Whatever we all say, a medal is a medal and playing coach Charo Soriano is just as pleased. And so are we.
6. But admit it, Pocari and Bali Pure have got to be the most popular teams today. Whenever the two play, they drew league-record attendance. It’s like Ateneo vs La Salle all over again. Or battle of the galactic stars. Imagine Alyssa Valdez teaming up with Soriano, Amy Ahomiro, Denden Lazaro, Jem Ferrer, Ella de Jesus, May Tajima, Dzi Gervacio, Bea Tan Grethcel Soltones against Michele Gumabao, Melissa Gohing, Myla Pablo, Elaine Kasilag, Gyzelle Sy and Siemens Dadang. What a match. Hope they play again in the Reinforced Conference late this year.
7. Speaking of Soltones, she won her first V-League MVP. And deservingly. Whoever said otherwise had probably sneezed out his brain. Here are the rules in determining the MVP. Only elimination round stats count. Only players who made the semifinals qualify for the award. National U’s Jaja Santiago would have ran away with the honor had the Lady Bulldogs made it. Soltones was No. 2. Her team made it. So guess who’s the MVP? Soltones. You want to plead your case for Pablo, Gumabao? They missed two games. Soltones missed just one. Judy Caballejo or any Air Force players? They’re too team oriented to concern themselves of an individual award. They’re an unselfish squad. Period. And oh, Alyssa Valdez. She missed three games. And yes, bless her heart, Alyssa is happy for Soltones. Did I make myself clear? So congrats Grethcel!
8. Oh Myla Pablo. You blew us all away. She just stepped up in the playoffs, averaging 26 in the semis and 19 in the finals. What a performance. She deserves the Finals MVP trophy. Standing ovation for you Myla.
9. Alyssa Valdez is STILL the FACE of Philippine Volleyball.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of Shakeys V-League, Fox News Philippines, Spin.ph.)