Fans were not allowed to be physically present at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, where the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) held its Open Conference.
Yet this doesn't mean that the PVL teams didn't feel the presence of their supporters. The volleyball community showered them with love throughout the tournament, particularly on social media where the fans sent encouraging messages to their favorite players.
One team that truly felt the love from fans was Choco Mucho, which made a run to the semifinals where they lost to eventual champion Chery Tiggo.
"The management was talking to us," said Choco Mucho middle blocker Bea de Leon, in an appearance on ABS-CBN News' "Post-Game" podcast. "They said, hindi nga kami nanalo, pero parang the term is, we captured everyone's hearts."
The team even came up with a term for how they continued to enjoy the fans' support, particularly towards the end of the season where they succumbed to consecutive losses.
"Ang term namin, talo pero trending," De Leon quipped.
Volleyball fans had rallied around the Flying Titans, who played a tough schedule in the closing stretch where they had eight games in nine days. In their penultimate match of the conference, they lost skipper Maddie Madayag to a knee injury.
For De Leon, having that kind of backing from the fans was gratifying and helped make their sacrifices worth it.
"We're in a bubble eh, we didn't know… We didn't know that nakita nang tao 'yung binigay namin. Things are fleeting when you're there. We didn't think at all na nagkaroon kami ng ganoong impact sa tao," she said.
"For that, we were very, very touched, ourselves. And very happy with the outcome of the whole thing, not just in terms of where we got in the tournament, in the Final 4, but in how, I guess, we did affect other people. That was very, very heartwarming to see," she added.
On "Post-Game," De Leon also discusses their build-up to the PVL season (1:49), the unique experience of playing without fans (15:15), the injury suffered by Madayag (28:05), and camaraderie among teams inside the bubble in Fort Ilocandia (37:40). Also, De Leon reacts to the colorful nickname that fans have given her longtime teammate, Kim Gequillana (25:50).
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