PVL: Choco Mucho withstands Army as 'fearless' Kat Tolentino delivers in clutch | Inquirer Sports

PVL: Choco Mucho withstands Army as ‘fearless’ Kat Tolentino delivers in clutch

/ 07:52 PM February 23, 2023

Kat Tolentino and the Choco Mucho Flying Titans. –PVL PHOTO

Kat Tolentino and the Choco Mucho Flying Titans. –PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — A cramp-stricken Kat Tolentino came to the rescue for the depleted Choco Mucho to overcome a gritty Army-Black Mamba side in five sets, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-27, 15-11, and regain its winning ways in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Tolentino, who suffered from cramps late in the third set but returned in the crucial moment of the fourth, kept her team afloat in the decider as she led the way with 20 points, including the game-winning cross-court kill to survive a grueling two-hour and 52-minute match without captain Bea de Leon, who was under the weather, and Des Cheng, who had stomach flu.

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After blowing their chance to end the game in the fourth set, the Flying Titans stepped on the gas in the fifth as Deanna Wong and Regine Arocha joined hands to build a 12-5 margin, scoring four straight points.

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But Army refused to give up as it scored six consecutive points capped by Jeanette Villareal’s back-to-back attacks and an ace by Ivy Perez to cut it down to one, 12-11.

Choco Mucho Flying Titans' Kat Tolentino. –PVL PHOTO

Choco Mucho Flying Titans’ Kat Tolentino. –PVL PHOTO

Tolentino stopped the bleeding, tearing Army’s net defense with a massive attack, followed by Isa Molde’s kill off a floating ball. The former Ateneo star ended the match with a cross-court spike to halt Choco Mucho’s two-game skid to improve to a 2-2 record.

“I’m speechless. [Kat] is fearless. She told me in the fifth set that she can play. So I gave her a chance as long as she can play,” said Choco Mucho coach Dante Alinsunurin in Filipino. “And she delivered. That’s why I’m thankful for her performance.

Molde was also instrumental with 19 points off 18 kills. But it was Regine Arocha who received the player of the game honor as she stepped up to fill in the void left by Cheng, finishing with 13 points, three in the fifth set.

“Regine played well even though she was a last-minute replacement in the first six. She deserves the best player because, in our practice, she really works hard, challenging our starters,” Alinsunurin added.

Wong orchestrated Choco Mucho’s plays with 15 excellent sets and scored eight points. Maddie Madayag had 10 points, including three blocks, as Cherry Nunag and Maika Ortiz took turns in filling in for De Leon. Libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla had 19 digs and nine excellent receptions.

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Army, which gave 30 errors, remained winless in four games as its losing streak was extended to 17 games, dating back to the elimination round of last year’s Invitationals.

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Villareal led the Lady Troopers with 19 points. Honey Royse Tubino chipped in 17 points, 12 digs, and 12 receptions. Nene Bautista and Lut Malaluan added 12 markers each, while Perez dished out 16 excellent sets and nailed five blocks to finish with 10.

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TAGS: Army, Choco Mucho, Kat Tolentino, PVL

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