Streaking Choco Mucho crawled out of a five-point hole in the fifth set before carving out an amazing 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-12, escape over PLDT to secure a semifinals seat in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference Thursday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The Flying Titans overhauled a 0-5 deficit at the start of the deciding set in an emotionally charged comeback for their eighth straight win after nine outings to end a four conference semifinals drought.
Choco Mucho’s win also towed defending champion and unbeaten sister team Creamline (8-0) to the Final Four.
“I’m very thankful for the performance of my team not only the players but also the coaching staff and management. We waited a long time to reach the semis so we’re a little [emotional],” an emotional Flying Titans head coach Dante Alinsunurin said in a cracking voice.
Sisi Rondina led the Flying Titans with 20 points with all but one coming off kills while contributing on the defensive end with 20 excellent receptions.
Middle blocker Maddie Madayag, who was emotional after the almost two and a half hours of back-and-forth action, tallied a personal conference-best 18 points built on 13 hits, two aces and three kill blocks including the game-clinching denial on Erika Santos to complete the come-from-behind win.
Choco Mucho patiently chipped away the High Speed Hitters’ lead before blasting five unanswered points to turn an 8-11 deficit into a 13-11 lead after an Isa Molde kill.
Santos stopped PLDT’s bleeding with a crosscourt kill but Jessey De Leon sent her pressure-packed service long before Madayag scored the finisher.
“It’s still a long way to go but what is important is that we reached our goal of entering the semis. I just put all my trust in all my players even if we were down, I didn’t call a timeout or put pressure on them. We just put cling on our faith in each other,” Alinsunurin said.
Molde had 15 points and 13 excellent receptions, Caitlin Viray had 10 markers while Cherry Nunag added nine for the Flying Titans, whose last semis stint was in the Open Conference last year. Deanna Won tallied 24 excellent sets while libero Thang Ponce had 23 digs.
Choco Mucho forced the decider with a 15-3 rally from a 1-7 deficit to take control of the fourth frame.
The High Speed Hitters dropped their third game in a row to slide down to a 5-4 card tied with Akari and Petro Gazz.
Fil-Canadian winger Savannah Davison saw her career-high 31 points – all from attacks – and 18 excellent receptions go to waste as PLDT got pushed to the brink of missing the semis bus.
Royse Tubino had 16 markers, Santos got 13 points, Rhea Dimaculangan dished out 22 excellet sets while libero Kath Arado listed 32 digs in a lost cause for the High Speed Hitters.