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Choco Mucho’s Quest to Conquer the Semifinals

MANILA, Philippines — After winning 10 games in a row to end a four-tournament semifinals drought, the Choco Mucho Flying Titans are suddenly on the brink of getting eliminated by the resilient Cignal HD Spikers in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-FIlipino Conference.

Choco Mucho blew a two-set lead and dropped Game 1 of the best-of-three series to Cignal in five sets, 25-18 25-23, 14-25, 19-25, 10-15, on Thursday night at Philsports Arena.

With their backs against the wall, the Flying Titans coach Dante Alinsunurin admitted they got a wake-up call after their streak was halted in the most important part of their campaign.

“If you are in our position, you will be confident and comfortable with our situation after beating all the teams except our first game,” said Alinsunurin in Filipino. 

“Although we came from a 10-game winning streak, we have to remember that this is the semis, our record won’t matter anymore since this is a best-of-three series. We have to find a way to come back on Saturday.”

Choco Mucho coach Dante Alinsunurin. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.et

Alinsunurin, a decorated coach in men’s volleyball seeking to make his mark in the PVL, admitted that the Flying Titans simply lost steam after taking a 2-0 lead.

“We relaxed in the third and fourth sets. We wanted to come back in the fifth set but we failed to do so because Cignal already got the momentum in offense, defense, and even service,” he said.

The Choco Mucho coach told his wards, led by Sisi Rondina, Deanna Wong, Isa Molde, and Kat Tolentino, that they have to learn from their mistakes and work harder as they try to extend the series in Game 2 on Saturday.

“We have to work harder because this is the semis, it won’t be easy for us. Cignal has more experience when it comes to this situation since they are tagged as title contenders every conference,” said Alinsunurin. “At the end of the day, we have to learn to win in this kind of situation.”

The Flying Titans absorbed their fifth straight loss in the semis dating back to the 2021 PVL Bacarra bubble where it wasted its Game 1 win and lost twice to eventual champion Chery Tiggo. They also got swept by Creamline in last year’s Open Conference — their last semis before returning in the third tournament this 2023.

Alinsunurin reminded his team that the series is not yet over and they still have a chance to keep their dream maiden PVL Finals appearance alive.

“The skills are there but we need to have the right mindset. Even if we’re down and after what happened in Game 1, we still have a chance to win this series,” he said.