MANILA, Philippines – Though they have yet to win a single set in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors remain confident that they can turn things around and move back into contention.
It has definitely been a disappointing start for Pocari, the last team to win the Reinforced Conference in the old Shakey's V-League.
The Lady Warriors were regarded as one of the teams to beat in the Reinforced Conference, even after former skipper Michele Gumabao left the team. After all, they still have superb spikers in Myla Pablo and Elaine Kasilag, a smart setter in Gyzelle Sy, and a veteran libero in Mel Gohing.
However, for their first two games, very little went according to plan for Pocari Sweat. The team opened its campaign by scoring only nine points in the first set against the Power Smashers, and went on to lose in three. Pocari put up a better fight against Bali Pure on Thursday, but still failed to take a set from the Water Defenders.
"We didn't finish strong," admitted Gohing, one of the team's new captains along with Sy, after the loss to Bali Pure. "Kaya naman, pero 'yung last five points of every set, kumakalas kami."
[We were right there, but we fell apart in the last five points of every set.]
Gohing believes Pocari is still trying to regain the chemistry that made the team such a powerhouse last year. After all, they are integrating new players to their rotation, such as middle blocker Jeanette Panaga, and adjusting to the loss of Gumabao.
"We have more to show to everybody," Gohing stressed. "It's just that we still need to work on our chemistry inside. May mga new players kami, so kailangan namin i-work 'yun para mabuo kami."
[We have new players, so we have to work on our chemistry with them.]
"Once na mag-connect-connect na 'yung mga spikers sa setter, 'yung mga new player, sobrang no problem," she added. "It's just that kulang pa."
[Once the spikers and the setter connect, then we have no problems. But for now, we're still working on it.]
For Gohing, not having their import is no excuse for their lackluster performances. No foreign player has suited up in the Reinforced Conference as the PVL tries to work on getting their international transfer certificates (ITCs), and thus teams are forced to battle with an All-Filipino crew.
Pocari has been practicing with its imports for at least two months now, so it was another adjustment for them to play without their reinforcements. Yet Gohing knows that their team is loaded enough to compete at a high level, even without the pair of Michelle Strizak and Edina Selimovic.
"Labanan ito ng All-Filipino ngayon, kasi walang import. Kung may import, ibang istorya naman 'yun," she said.
[This is an All-Filipino showdown, because no team can use an import. But once the imports are here, it will be a different story.]
Working in Pocari's favor is the tournament's double-round elimination format, meaning the Lady Warriors have time to make up for their slow start.
"Ang team namin is very positive," said Gohing. "We had a better game (against Bali Pure) compared to the first game, everybody knows that. It's just that kulang pa. 'Yung puso lang talaga at tiyaga sa huli, 'yun ang kulang sa amin."
[We lacked the heart and the hard work in the end game.]
"Pero positive kami," she stressed. "We're going to work harder. We need to work harder and harder."
In the midst of their losing streak, Gohing says she and co-captain Sy are trying their best to keep the team optimistic.
"We just keep on talking and talking, kahit paos na kami. And, trying to be positive and dapat kaming dalawa, hindi kami ang unang babagsak. So kung bumagsak man lahat, kailangan kami dala namin yung buong team," she said.
[We can't fall apart. If the rest of the team collapses, it's on us to lift them up.]
Pocari tries for its first win on Saturday against Air Force.
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