4 p.m. – BanKo-Perlas vs PetroGazz (best-of-three for third)
6 p.m. – Creamline vs Ateneo-Motolite (best-of-three for crown)
Despite being heavily favored to win, Creamline refuses to underestimate Ateneo-Motolite, underlining the need to sweep its rival or face the risk of taking on a youthful, energetic Lady Eagles squad on back-to-back game days this weekend.
Game 1 of the best-of-3 finals of the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference Finals is set at Wednesday night at FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan, with the Cool Smashers tipped to come out strong coming off rest following a sweep of the PetroGazz Angels in the Final Four.
In contrast, the Lady Eagles will be coming into the match a bit weary after a tough semis win over the BanKo-Perlas Spikers where they rallied from 0-1 series down with a sweep of the last two, including back-to-back games last weekend marked by an extended five-set decision last Sunday.
Creamline star Alyssa Valdez pointed to Ateneo’s edge in youth and conditioning should they be dragged through the full finals route with Games 2 and 3 set in Batangas City and back at Filoil Center this Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
"That’s our concern if ever we have to go through back-to-back games since we are pitted against student-athletes trained in such routines,” said Valdez, who, however, will bank on their experience and endgame poise honed by their championship run in the Reinforced Conference last July.
The Cool Smashers, who also boast of talents in Jema Galanza, Michelle Gumabao, Risa Sato, Pau Soriano, libero Melissa Gohing and ace playmaker Jia Morado, routed the depleted Lady Eagles in three in their first meeting in the double-round elims.
But the Katipunan-based squad, with Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston back in the roster, struck back and pulled off a crucial five-set win in the second round that also saw Creamline play without Sato and with Gumabao still far from top form following a stint in the Miss Global in Albania.
That victory likewise fueled the Lady Eagles’ drive to the finals.
With both teams showing up with full rosters, expect a slam-bang duel right from opening serve with the Cool Smashers tipped to unleash their vaunted firepower and the Lady Eagles ready to defend through their triple towers in Tolentino, Madayag and Bea de Leon and a gutsy crew made up of Vanessa Gandler, Deanna Wong, Julianne Samonte and Dani Ravena.
"But I think it’s really the mindset going to the Finals that will spell the difference," said Valdez, who is again poised to claiming the MVP honors in the conference backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Meanwhile, BanKo-Perlas and PetroGazz clash in the opener of their own best-of-three series for third at 4 p.m.
Games can be viewed live via streaming on www.abs-cbn.com/livestream/pvl.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.