The spotlight was on the starting lineup of Pocari Sweat as it formally capped its campaign in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference with a title.
Krystal Rivers, who came in time for the finals to replace Bosnian import Edina Selimovic, proved to be as good as advertised when she displayed her scoring prowess in her short — but sweet — stint in the PVL.
The 5-foot-11 Alabama native lit up the scoreboard when she tallied a total of 73 points in three matches anchored on 65 kills, seven blocks and an ace.
PVL’s Best Import Michelle Strizak, on the other hand, was still there as she provided much-needed offense and defense for the champions together with local top hitter and Finals Most Valuable Player Myla Pablo.
Middle hitters Jeanette Panaga and Desiree Dadang were also very impressive in boosting the morale of the Lady Warriors in action and manning their frontline defense.
True enough, they have all done well to tow the squad to its third overall crown.
But there are some unsung heroes who quietly stood out in the Lady Warriors’ march to the throne.
While waiting for Rivers to finally secure her international transfer certificate, a former National University standout, Nepomuceno, was deployed as opposite spiker for the Lady Warriors.
Nepomuceno was able to fill in the missing link for Pocari Sweat to live up the expectations.
And even with Rivers already around, she was always ready to back her up and perform at her best to redeem herself and repay her coaches’ trust.
[quote]”Nalagasan kasi kami ng isa ‘di ba? Nawala ‘yung isang import namin and then dumating nga si Krystal, so ako ganoon pa din ang mind set ko. Every game iniisip ko na ito na ‘yung last game ko para makapagpakitang gilas at masuklian ang tiwala na binibigay ng mga coaches ko.”[/quote]
Aside from leading the cheersquad of Pocari Sweat from the sidelines, Cainglet-Cayetano has also proven her worth for the three-time league champions.
She has taken a role of a service specialist since Maria Shola Alvarez was not seen in action due to a knee injury.
Whenever she’s called in to serve, her cheerful mood transformed into beastmode to deliver at her best and make her kids Ino and Fille Renee proud.
[quote]”Kapag pinapasok ako ni Coach (Abella), masaya pa rin naman ako, pero kapag pinasok ako sinasabi ko sa sarili ko na ‘okay, focus na, beastmode na,’ may ganoon.”[/quote]
Jessey De Leon
Who would’ve thought that after taking a breather, De Leon would be bolder and fiercer in her major comeback?
She has been the game changer for Pocari Sweat.
Whenever Panaga or Dadang was having a rough time from defending the net, De Leon will march in the court well-prepared to stand behind them.
In fact, when BaliPure was trying to make a rally in Game 3, it was De Leon who applied the finishing touches as she soared for a quick hit that sealed the championship.
In the end, De Leon couldn’t believe that she and the rest of the Lady Warriors would end their campaign in a dramatic fashion despite all the adversities that came their way.
[quote]”Hindi ko ma-explain to words kung gaano nga ako ka-happy sa sobrang dami naming pinagdaanan as a team kaya sobrang meaningful ito lalo na’t napunta ako sa team na ang turingan ay family.”[/quote]
The University of Santo Tomas product also said it doesn’t matter whether she’s in or out of the court as long as she could make her presence felt by helping the team in any way that she can.
[quote]”Hindi naman importante sa akin na first six ako basta if I stepped inside the court tutulong ako sa team. Tapos kahit out the court sinisigurado kong makakatulong pa rin ako sa team by cheering them.”[/quote]
What a journey it has been for these Lady Warriors.
But more than anything else, it was their collective team effort and big fighting hearts that made them the queens in the country’s vintage club league.