MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Army Black Mamba racked up a second consecutive win in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference by outlasting an undermanned Choco Mucho side, Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Playmaker Ivy Perez starred in Army's 25-22, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19 triumph that improved their record to 2-1 and boosted their chances of making it to the next phase of the competition.
The Flying Titans put up a gutsy stand but couldn't overcome their personnel woes. Choco Mucho was missing Desiree Cheng, Kat Tolentino, Thang Ponce, and Cherry Nunag, who were all reportedly under the weather. It also lost middle blocker Aduke Ogunsanya to injury in the third set.
Choco Mucho dropped to 1-2 in the conference.
Perez tallied nine points on top of 27 excellent sets to earn Player of the Match honors, while Jovelyn Gonzaga put up 13 points and Royse Tubino came off the bench to score six markers, including the match-winner.
"Sa training namin, nagpi-peak na sila. Kaya ganyan 'yung naging resulta ng game namin. And then, pinag-aralan talaga namin 'yung Choco Mucho. Talagang kailangan namin manalo sa kanila. 'Yan ang team na napakalakas," said Army coach Rico de Guzman, who continues to call the shots in place of Kungfu Reyes.
After splitting the first two sets, the two squads went blow-for-blow in Set 3 with Army recovering from an early deficit to make it a tight game down the stretch.
A hit by Tubino knotted the count at 22, and the rally proved costly for the Flying Titans as Ogunsanya landed on her teammate Caitlyn Viray's foot after going up for a block. Replays showed that the middle blocker twisted her ankle and her knee also buckled on her way down. Ogunsanya had to be helped off the bench and did not return to the match.
Army went on to win the third frame, reaching set point, 24-23, on a service error by Viray. A Ponggay Gaston hit kept the Flying Titans alive, but back-to-back kills by veterans Ging Balse and Nene Bautista sealed the win for the Lady Troopers.
Army raced to an 18-11 lead in the fourth set and rebuffed a late rally by Choco Mucho to clinch the win. Tubino accounted for their last two points, beating the net defense of the Flying Titans for the crucial kills.
"Hindi naman namin sinasadya na magkaroon ng problema 'yung kabila," De Guzman said of Choco Mucho's personnel issues. "So sinamantala lang din namin na, sige, i-enjoy natin. Pakita natin 'yung best natin, and then i-apply natin 'yung ginagawa sa training."
Without Tolentino and Cheng, it was Viray who led Choco Mucho in scoring with 15 points, while Ogunsanya already had 10 points before suffering her injury. Isa Molde had eight points, and Deanna Wong accounted for three points, 18 excellent sets, and 21 digs.