PVL: Choco Mucho gives Alinsunurin winning debut by sweeping Akari
MANILA, Philippines — Coach Dante Alinsunurin made a rousing debut in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference as Choco Mucho swept Akari in straight sets, 25-15, 25-20, 25-20, on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The decorated coach’s system was good as advertised with former Ateneo stars Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, and Kat Tolentino delivering the goods with 11 points each to spoil Dindin Santiago-Manabat’s debut as an Akari Charger.
Madayag, who suffered a left ACL injury last August 2021 during the PVL Open Conference Bacarra bubble, shone in her first start emerging as the player of the game, hitting nine of her 12 spike attempts on top of one block and an ace in front of 9,819 fans.
“I’m very happy that coach Dante gave me an opportunity for my redemption. Because it took a while for me to recover after that painful fall,” said the star middle blocker, who played sparingly in the Reinforced Conference last year.
“I’m very happy that I’m able to bounce back [from my injury] in this game. But we won’t stop from this game, we will keep on working,” she added.
When Akari took a 14-13 lead in the third set, Madayag unloaded four straight points to put Choco Mucho back on top, 17-15 before going to the back line. She drilled a service ace to give her team a commanding 20-15 lead but Jhoana Maraguinot stopped the bleeding for the Chargers with back-to-back attacks.
De Leon restored order for the Flying Titans with two consecutive running attacks for a 22-17 advantage. Maraguinot and Manabat trimmed it to a four-point, 23-19, but Tolentino closed out the game with a pair of lethal attacks to give their new coach a successful debut.
“I’m thankful to my players and coaching staff because we really helped each other to get this win. This win gives me goosebumps because it’s my first time to coach in the PVL,” said Alinsunurin in Filipino after his wards only committed 11 errors in the match.
“The crowd energizes me knowing that Choco Mucho has a lot of fans. I can see my [new] team receiving a big boost from their supporters.”
Besides the troika of Madayag-Tolentino-De Leon, setter Deanna Wong was also instrumental with 21 excellent sets and scored three points from two blocks. Isa Molde chipped in 10 points, while Des Cheng added seven markers and had 14 excellent receptions and nine digs to help out libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla.
After a dominant first-set win, the Flying Titans lost steam as the Chargers unleashed a 5-1 start and maintained the lead going to the second technical timeout, 16-14. However, Choco Mucho got its act together as Madayag scored back-to-back to cap a 7-1 run for a 21-17 lead.
Molde delivered three clutch attacks to put her team at set point, 24-19, before substitute spiker Trisha Genesis saved a point for Akari with a crosscourt kill. But Wong delivered a set-clinching 1-2 play to take a two-set lead.
Manabat carried the scoring cudgels of Akari with a game-high 17 points, while Janine Marciano had 12 points as they gave up 23 errors and didn’t score a single block kill in the game.
PVL: Bea de Leon ‘confident’ Choco Mucho can reach goal under new coach Dante Alinsunurin
Dante Alinsunurin hopes to take Choco Mucho to greater heights with his proven system
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