MANILA, Philippines -- Choco Mucho's new recruits gave a good account of themselves in their debuts for the Flying Titans in the 2021 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference, Wednesday evening in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
It was a long-delayed debut for Ponggay Gaston, Deanna Wong, Jamie Lavitoria, and Denden Lazaro-Revilla, as Choco Mucho's first game of the conference last Sunday was washed out by heavy rains in the area.
Still, the wait was worth it as all four players saw action in the Flying Titans' thrilling 28-26, 10-25, 27-25, 25-11 win over the PLDT Home Fibr Hitters.
"Ito 'yung kulang namin," Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro said of their new players. "We really hope na 'yung addition nila, mag-spark din talaga kung ano 'yung Titan pride."
Wong had four points and 26 excellent sets, while Gaston had six points. Lazaro-Revilla had 24 digs and nine excellent receptions, while Lavitoria saw action in the second set as well.
The four players joined Choco Mucho last year, even with all PVL competitions put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kat Tolentino, who led the Flying Titans with 18 points, said their new players were "a huge factor" against the Fibr Hitters.
"They really fulfilled their role, as we trained in the bubble," she said. "They really know their roles."
"I'm just thankful that they're very accepting, and they're fun to be around. They bring so much energy to the team, and we're very lucky to have them," she added.
It's no surprise that their new recruits fit seamlessly with the rest of the squad, as Wong, Gaston, and Lavitoria were all members of Almadro's Ateneo de Manila University team that won the UAAP title in Season 81.
The Flying Titans also feature middle blockers Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag, both of whom were crucial to the Lady Eagles' championship run in 2019.
"It's just nice to have the Ateneo core with this team," said Tolentino. "It's definitely an advantage, because we know Coach O's system."
"We still have a lot of things to fix, and we're still adjusting. So I think soon, hopefully, we'll be able to really get the Ateneo system that Coach O has instilled in us, and look forward to the future games," she added.
Choco Mucho returns to action on Friday against the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors.