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Tiebreaker Times


PVL: Arocha steps up for shorthanded Choco Mucho, snaps skid at Army’s expense

Despite missing two key players, Choco Mucho managed to fend off a gritty Army-Black Mamba in five sets, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-27, 15-11 in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference, Thursday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Flying Titans missed the services of starters Des Cheng and Bea De Leon but still managed to end their two-game skid and move to 2-2 in the standings. Cheng is currently suffering from stomach flu while De Leon is under the weather.

Kat Tolentino, who sat out the majority of the fourth set after suffering from cramps in the third, finished with a game-high 20 points on 18 attacks while Isa Molde stepped up in her teammates’ absence and delivered 19 points founded on 18 attacks.

“Syempre sobrang sinwerte sa sitwasyon. Although sabi ko nga sa team namin, unti-unti lang. Kung ano ‘man yung gusto naming mangyari sa loob ng court nakita namin ngayon at medyo umangat yung blockings namin kaya siguro naging mas maganda yung laro namin sa depensa,” said Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin.

After letting the fourth set slip, The Flying Titans bounced back in the final frame and seized a 12-5 advantage courtesy of a miscommunication from Ivy Perez and Lut Malaluan.

The Lady Troopers, though, did not go down without a fight as Royse Tubino, Jeanette Villareal, and Perez joined hands in a six-to-nothing blast that trimmed the seven-point advantage to just one.

Tolentino then nailed an off-the-block hit to stop the bleeding while Molde hammered an over reception from Tubino which pushed the Choco Mucho at match point. Tolentino then sealed the win with a crosscourt attack.

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Arocha provided the spark in her first start of the tournament and chipped in 13 points – with three coming from the all-important fifth set – to go along with eight excellent receptions while Maddie Madayag added 10 markers on five attacks, three blocks, and 10 aces.

Denden Lazaro-Revilla gathered 19 excellent digs and nine excellent receptions while Deanna Wong was limited to just 15 excellent sets for the Rebisco-backed squad.

“Maganda yung performance niya [Arocha] kahit na pinalit lang siya sa original na first six. Pero deserving talaga siya maging best player kasi sa training naman lagi naman talaga niyang pinupukpok yung first six e,” Alinsunurin added.

The Flying Titans had the chance to close out the opposing side in four sets after Tolentino placed the team at match point, 24-22, with an off the block hit. However, Nene Bautista and Tubino scored two consecutive points to send the game to a deuce.

Choco Mucho had another chance after Bautista botched her service attempt in the following play but Tubino and Villareal fired two consecutive crosscourt attacks to put Army at match point before Caitlyn Viray committed an attack error which sent the game to a decider.

Villareal led the way for the Lady Troopers with 19 points on 15 attacks and four rejections while Tubino had 17 points Bautista and Malaluan each added 12 markers as Army, who dropped its 17th consecutive loss dating back to the Invitationals last year, remained winless with a 0-4 standing.

Choco Mucho will face Cignal on Thursday at 4:00 PM while Army will take on Creamline on Tuesday also at 4:00 PM. Both games will be played at the Philsports Arena.

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