PVL: Choco Mucho outlasts F2 Logistics, earns twice-to-beat

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2022 08:47 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2022 10:11 PM

The Choco Mucho Flying Titans will have a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals. PVL Media Bureau.
The Choco Mucho Flying Titans will have a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals. PVL Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Choco Mucho Flying Titans will be armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

This, after the Flying Titans gutted out a thrilling 21-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-22 victory on Thursday evening against the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers at the Paco Arena in Manila.

A hard-earned win in the second set gave Choco Mucho the momentum it needed, and they went on to grab their third win in four games to finish as the second seed in Pool A. They will play the PLDT High Speed Hitters in the quarterfinals.

"Natalo kami ng isang set, nabigyan ng opportunity na makahabol, so we have to be joyful," Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro said after their win. "Kailangan lang namin maging masaya inside the court, and sabi ko nga, the key to winning is loving each other, of course. And, of course, 'yung details, attention to details."

Desiree Cheng tormented her former team, firing the clutch hits in the fourth set en route to 10 points. Kat Tolentino had 19 points, while Ponggay Gaston had 12 markers. Aduke Ogunsanya scored four of her nine points on blocks.

Deanna Wong tallied 44 excellent sets as the Flying Titans put up 55 kills in the match.

F2 Logistics appeared to have the momentum after taking the first set, where they held off a late rally by the Flying Titans. But Choco Mucho recovered in a marathon second set, where they got clutch hits from Tolentino and Isa Molde before Wong finished things off with an ace.

The Flying Titans reached set point, 24-23, off a Ponggay Gaston hit but Kianna Dy tied the set with a strong hit. F2 Logistics reached set point, 25-24, when team captain Aby Marano rejected Molde at the net. Tolentino drilled back-to-back kills to shift the advantage back to Choco Mucho, 26-25, before an Ara Galang crosscourt attack forced another deuce.

Choco Mucho would not be denied, with Molde giving them another set point before Wong fired the winning ace.

Now with momentum, the Flying Titans raced to a 6-0 advantage in the third set, then held off the Cargo Movers' rally to claim a 2-1 advantage. In the fourth frame, it was Cheng who ensured the win for Choco Mucho, scoring the go-ahead kill that broke an 18-all deadlock.

Her hit sparked a 5-1 blast that gave Choco Mucho a 23-19 lead. Late errors by the Flying Titans gave F2 Logistics some life, and they were within one point, 23-22, off a hitting error by Wong. But Cheng scored again, and Shola Alvarez's last hit met the net, slamming the door on F2's chances of a comeback.

"Pinag-aralan naman talaga namin 'yung game, paano sila maglaro for the past games nila," said Cheng. "I think we did a good job today sa game namin."

Kianna Dy led the Cargo Movers with 14 points, while Marano and Galang each had 11 points. Kim Fajardo tallied 24 excellent sets in the game.

F2 Logistics will still advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face the PetroGazz Angels. The Cargo Movers will be at a disadvantage, as the Gazz Angels need to win just once to advance to the semis.