Army vets spearhead victory over Choco Mucho
Army strafed a Choco Mucho squad that had ran out of firepower and fashioned out a 25-22, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19 victory on Tuesday in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan yesterday.
Against a team that missed the services of two of its top hitters, Army squeezed out every drop of experience from its veteran crew to subdue the young Choco Mucho squad and notch its second straight win to climb to 2-1 and stay at solo third.
Down five in the crucial third set, Army set up a thrilling finish where it went to oldtimers MJ Balse-Pabayo and Nene Bautista, who produced the winning hits in the extended sets and defused whatever threat the limping Flying Titans tried to muster.
Choco Mucho was without Kat Tolentino, one of the tournament’s leading scorers, and Des Cheng, creating a vacuum in its offense. The Flying Titans were also without Cherry Nunag and Thang Ponce. In a way, the absences threw off Army, whose assistant coach, Rico de Guzman, admitted that they entered the match with a game plan anchored on neutralizing Tolentino.
“We were really surprised after finding out she (Tolentino) wouldn’t play. But even without her, it didn’t come easy although we did exploit her absence,” said De Guzman, who took over from Kungfu Reyes.
To make things worse for Choco Mucho, Aduke Ogunsanya, who had collected 10 hits, suffered a bad fall and left the fourth set due to an injury, further limiting the Flying Titans’ offensive options.
And Army pounced on that.
After taking the third set, the Troopers rolled through the fourth and pounced on their foes’ limited offensive options to roar to an 18-11 lead.
Choco Mucho managed to crawl to within three, before Balse and Honey Royse Tubino knocked the fight out of the young Flying Titans.
“We played pressure-free. With a lot of veterans, this team doesn’t get rattled anymore,” said Ivy Perez, who delivered 27 excellent sets on top of nine points.