MANILA, Philippines – After winning a bronze medal in the VTV Cup in Vietnam last August, Choco Mucho is determined to reach the podium for the first time in the season-ending Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference.
The Flying Titans had a fruitful break, winning four of their seven matches against international sides from Vietnam, Japan, Australia and South Korea, with Sisi Rondina taking home the Best Outside Spiker award and Maddie Madayag winning the Best Middle Blocker in Lao Cai, Vietnam.
Coach Dante Alinsunurin, who will coach Choco Mucho in its third conference, hopes their overseas performance will finally put the club on the podium as the club has yet to reach the top three since joining the PVL in 2019.
“What is important for us is that this third conference we should use our VTV Cup (bronze) as inspiration because it is a good start for us. We achieved a podium finish there. We must continue what we started into the third conference,” Alinsunurin said in Filipino during the press conference on Wednesday.
“During the first conference, our goal was to win games. In the second conference we were able to win games, but still fell short. After showing our potential and achieving a good result on the international stage, I told them that we must achieve our target (podium finish) this conference,” he added.
Team captain Bea De Leon agreed with their coach and believed that they learned to play a “different style of volleyball” in Vietnam.
“I think the biggest learning experience we had in Vietnam was competing against different types of teams across the board. Everyone played a different style of volleyball. We had a day or two to get used to that. I think it is a good task for us tactically to bring that to the PVL,” De Leon told reporters.
“Hopefully it will come together here in the PVL. It has really been our goal for a long time and that has obviously given us a lot of confidence,” she added.
De Leon is excited to see action in the largest PVL yet, with twelve teams, while the Flying Titans, under the banner of Rondina, Madayag, Deanna Wong, Kat Tolentino, Des Cheng, Caitlin Viray and Denden Lazaro-Revilla, trying to rise from seventh place last Invitationals and end a drought of four semi-finals.
“Hopefully, now that the system has been integrated by Coach Dante, we can translate it to the field this time and really get it together with the teams and everyone, all the additional teams, plus a lot of crucial changes. also across the board. We are very, very excited,” she said.
Choco Mucho opens its campaign against sister team and defending champions Creamline sans star setter Jia De Guzman at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
Alinsunurin believes they have a chance to get their first win against Creamline since joining their progression four years ago, as long as they are able to make the in-game adjustments.
“There is a bit of pressure because they are the defending champions. But I told the players that we had already come this far. We just have to keep doing our job and make adjustments in the match so that we have a chance to win the first game,” he said.