Premier Volleyball League

Choco Mucho finally breaks franchise slump, sets first PVL finals with sister team Creamline

JR Isaga

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Choco Mucho finally breaks franchise slump, sets first PVL finals with sister team Creamline

BREAKING THROUGH. Deanna Wong (center) reacts as Choco Mucho huddles in-game in the 2023 PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals

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Choco Mucho breaks through the proverbial glass ceiling in the PVL, finally reaching its first franchise finals berth against undefeated champion Creamline after a semifinals ouster of Cignal

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time in their hard-luck franchise history, the Choco Mucho Flying Titans reached the PVL finals after dispatching the Cignal HD Spikers in Game 3 of the Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, on Wednesday, December 12.

Star setter Deanna Wong helped five players to double-digit scoring with 24 excellent sets as Choco Mucho barged into the PVL podium for the first time since its inception in 2019, and is now set for a blockbuster best-of-three finals series with sister team and defending champion Creamline.

Game 1 is set at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday, December 14, 6 pm, immediately following the battle for third between Cignal and Chery Tiggo.

Ace recruit Sisi Rondina powered down 21 points in the historic win, while Kat Tolentino – an inaugural Flying Titan alongside Wong – added 17 on 15 attacks, 1 block, and 1 ace.

Decorated head coach Dante Alinsunurin, in only his third conference in the professional ranks, expressed his relief after his wards finally shook off their late-conference woes to break through the proverbial glass ceiling that stayed intact for so long.

“Finally, we’ve entered the championship round. From the first conference, we already saw the hardships the team went through until the second conference,” he said in Filipino. “Our hardships really paid off and our desire to win really shone through to get this Game 3.”

Locked in an intense nip-and-tuck affair in the fourth set after trading wins in the first two frames, Cignal stayed within striking distance despite multiple Choco Mucho attempts to pull away, getting within a 22-23 deficit after a botched Bea de Leon serve.

Tolentino then hammered a definitive crosscourt kill to reach match point as the PhilSports Arena erupted in cheers, but Vanie Gandler responded right back with her own hit to get within 23-24.

The HD Spikers had their chance to force another extended set like the third, but Gandler miffed her final down-the-line spike that not even a final Cignal challenge could save.

Gandler paced the heartbreaking ouster with 20 points on 19 attacks, while reigning Invitational Conference MVP Ces Molina scored 19, all on spikes. –

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