For the first time since the 2022 Open, Choco Mucho has barged the Premier Volleyball League semifinals.
The Flying Titans needed to bring out all of their tricks to survive and escape PLDT in five sets, 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-12, and claim their Second All-Filipino Conference semis ticket on Thursday night at the filled Philsports Arena.
As the dust settled, there was Maddie Madayag, taking in all the emotions.
“Naging emotional ako ngayon kasi after noong win saka lang nag-sink in na pumasok kami sa semis,” said Madayag, who was still in tears during the post-game interview.
“Last time na nagkaroon kami ng chance for semis was in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Yung game na yun, doon ako na-ACL eh. We were supposed to fight for third place para makapag-podium yung Choco Mucho,” she recalled.
Although the Flying Titans made the playoffs of the 2022 Open, Madayag was still recovering from her injury then.
Relieved and grateful was Madayag as Choco Mucho has finally clicked under the guidance of head coach Dante Alinsunurin. During the first two conferences of the decorated tactician, the Flying Titans finished seventh in both.
This was only the third time in eight conferences that the crowd darlings will enter the semifinals so this was so sweet for Madayag, who was already part of the team since its creation.
“After the last points, sumigaw ako ng ‘Thank You Lord!’ As in yun lang talagang nasa isip ko, hindi Niya kami pinabayaan, and wala, just that the team is really there na, we’re going there, kung saan gusto ni Coach Dante,” said Madayag, who provided 18 points including the game-clinching block on Erika Santos.
“Kung saan kami dapat pupunta and nakikita namin bawat isa yung performance namin paangat and hopefully, maganda yung pag-peak namin coming to the semis and hopefully, the finals,” added Madayag, who was fighting her tears from pouring.
“Ang sarap lang talaga sa feeling na finally nakapasok ang Choco Mucho sa semis.”
Choco Mucho left it all on the court to earn the semis berth, coming back from huge deficits in both the fourth and fifth periods.
In the fourth, the High Speed Hitters zoomed to a 7-1 lead before the Flying Titans stormed back, while in the decider, PLDT gained a 10-6 advantage before Deanna Wong, Caitlin Viray, Isa Molde, Sisi Rondina, and Madayag connived for the epic fightback.
“Sobrang naging emotional ako sa panalo kasi sobrang ganda ng laban. Down kami ilang points pero hinabol namin noong fourth set,” said the Ateneo product.
“Everytime pumapasok ako, nagsasabi ako, ‘Please! Ihabol natin please!’ As in tinitignan natin sa mata kapit tayo hanggang dulo kasi nandito na tayo tinrabaho na natin to, tapusin natin nang maayos.”