Finals ticket up for grabs

One game to determine the opponents of the Creamline Cool Smashers in the PVL Open Conference 2018 Finals.

The pressure is on as both the Banko Perlas Spikers and the Ateneo-Motolite Lady Eagles have done their part to force a rubber match. Banko Perlas survived the Oliver Almadro-coached squad in five sets while limiting the Lady Eagles to just six points in the deciding chapter of the first game. Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles finally defeated Banko Perlas this conference with a closely contested straight-sets win.

With both squads at the cusp of a Finals appearance, here are some factors that can help them extend their campaign.

How the Banko Perlas Spikers can win Game 3

Reducing turnovers are the first thing that the players of coach Ariel Dela Cruz must work on. They had six more unforced errors against the Lady Eagles in their Game One victory (26-20). However, they were able to compensate for it with a whopping 68-51 advantage in spike points. Such was not the case in Game Two as Banko Perlas and Ateneo-Motolite had 39 spike points each. The Lady Eagles got the edge though by committing only 19 unforced errors as compared to Banko’s 25.

Likewise, the Perlas Spikers must also apply pressure to the Lady Eagles at the net. Ateneo-Motolite has led in blocks for both games and it proved to be a deciding factor in the Game Two triumph. Banko Perlas had seven kill blocks in the first game, all courtesy of Kathy Bersola. That’s four less than what the Lady Eagles tallied with seven of which being shared by Kat Tolentino (4) and Maddie Madayag (3). The likes of Joy Dacoron, Amy Ahomiro and Suzanne Roces should step up to collect more kill blocks.

Finally, the Banko Perlas Spikers should make good passess off the first ball. While they did have 23 excellent receptions, setter Jem Ferrer only had 13 excellent sets in 74 tries. Such paltry numbers is not enough to give good attempts to Roces, Tiamzon, Gervacio, and Bersola. As always, setting the ball to the wings becomes easy when the primary setter gets a good pass from service.

Keys to victory for the Ateneo Motolite Lady Eagles

The Lady Eagles have to exploit their ability to play at a faster pace than Banko Perlas. Thus, they must keep the pressure by activating a number of quick strikes up the middle. Bersola might have matched them in the first meeting but Madayag and Bea De Leon combined for 18 points which are mostly from short sets. The tandem then combined for 15 markers in Game Two which surpasses Bersola and Ahomiro’s production of just eight.

Ateneo-Motolite must also fortify their floor defense to have a shot of winning. While they did have a whopping 77 excellent digs during the five-setter Game One, Banko Perlas trampled on them with 95 of their own. Saving the ball more often must have frustrated the Lady Eagles which then helped Banko Perlas dominate the last set. Game Two’s dig count was at 37-36 to Ateneo’s favor. That helped them neutralize the Perlas Spikers’ scoring options en route to tying the series.

Lastly, Ateneo-Motolite knows that Tolentino, Madayag, and De Leon will get their points. However, setter Deanna Wong must get other spikers like Vanessa Gandler, Ponggay Gaston, and Jules Samonte be continually involved in the offense. This trio had a combined 31 points in the five-set loss which amounts to 6.2 points per set. That average increased to exactly seven points per set in their victory with Gaston named as the game’s best player with 11 points, all off spikes. The Lady Eagles will be difficult to stop if these three players can get their game going.

Which team will win?

Both games have been tightly played so far even though one game went just three sets. Banko Perlas reached the 20-point threshold in all sets including a 24-26 extended third. Meanwhile, the 105-98 total score during the first game is indicative of a fierce contest too. Therefore, both teams have a strong claim in winning this game. This question can only be answered by watching the game via livestream by clicking here.