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MANILA, Philippines — The Choco Mucho Flying Titans clinched a spot in the 2023 PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals after fashioning out a 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-12 comeback win against the PLDT High Speed Hitters on Thursday, November 23, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
Choco Mucho, now enjoying an 8-1 record and an eight-game win streak, also towed to the Final Four sister team Creamline Cool Smashers, the league-leading champion squad enjoying a perfect 8-0 slate.
Sisi Rondina led the team’s offense with 20 points and Maddie Madayag also fired a conference-high 18 markers in the thriller where the Flying Titans stormed back from a 1-2 set deficit and a 0-5 hole in the decider.
“First of all, I’m so thankful for our performance, not only the players but the coaching staff and management… it is important that we achieved the goal to enter the semis,” said Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin in Filipino after the game.
“In the game, my trust in the players reigned because even though we were down, I never called a timeout or pressured them… so I think our trust in each other emerged.”
The High Speed Hitters started off on the right track during the deciding set by going up 5-0 following an attack error by Choco Mucho’s Cherry Nunag.
Since PLDT established an 8-4 lead, the Flying Titans outscored their competition, 8-3, courtesy of a backrow attack by Rondina to grab the advantage, 12-11.
Jessey de Leon’s service error gave Choco Mucho match point, which was ended by Madayag’s rejection of Erika Santos, leading to an outburst of emotion from the middle blocker.
“I was so emotional with the win because the match was so good,” said Madayag, who was brought to tears.
“We were down by so many points, but we rallied during the fourth set, and every time I entered, I shouted, ‘Please! Let’s come back please!’”
The Flying Titans were also down 1-7 in the fourth set before they clapped back with a 12-1 run that widened the lead to 17-11.
Rondina scored the final two points in the fourth frame to force the fifth set, 25-17.
On the losing side, Fil-Canadian Savannah Davison fueled the team’s offense with 31 attack points as PLDT teetered on the brink of elimination with a 5-4 card.
Royse Tubino also contributed 16 for the High Speed Hitters. — Rappler.com