MANILA, Philippines — Despite missing Des Cheng due to a season-ending injury, depleted Choco Mucho drew a much-needed spark from its bench on Thursday.
The Flying Titans dominated the winless Galeries Tower Highrisers, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20, for their third straight win in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-Filipino Conference at Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna.
Sisi Rondina led the collective effort of Choco Mucho, which also missed Maddie Madayag, Isa Molde, and Cherry Nunag in the match.
Rondina dropped 16 points built on 13 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to go with 10 digs and seven excellent receptions as the Flying Titans improved to a 3-1 record forcing a three-way tie in third place with PLDT and Chery Tiggo.
“We will continue to fight on for our teammates like Des. We’re doing this for her and all of our teammates,” said Rondina in Filipino. Cheng suffered an ACL tear in her right knee last week.
“I’m happy because our teammates performed. As I told them, we just need to keep working, communicating, and doing the things that will help our team win.”
Choco Mucho coach Dante Alinsunurin lauded his team after every player he fielded contributed to the victory.
“I’m thankful for this win because all the players I called from the bench delivered despite our situation and the problems of the team,” said Alinsunurin, whose squad looks to make it four in a row on Tuesday against Nxled at Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Rondina knew that her teammates would step up to fill in the void left by Cheng and others. Caitlin Viray stepped up with 11 points. Bea De Leon chipped in 10 points including two aces and a block, while Deanna Wong had 14 excellent sets on top of two markers.
Regine Arocha also shone in her first start in the conference with eight points including a pair of aces to go with seven excellent receptions.
With the motivational words of Rondina, the former NCAA Finals Most Valuable Player out of Arellano did well in filling in the big shoes of Cheng and Molde.
“Sisi woke me up when she told me that my spikes weren’t strong enough. Since she said that I was energized and I kept on smashing the ball because I realized that I was over-eager with my attacks,” Arocha said in Filipino. “I just did what we do in practice but I know that I committed a lot of errors so I have to do better next time.”
“We’re sad that Ate Des will no longer play. But we want her to relax, we will take care of the team as we wait for her,” she added.
Galeries, which has yet to win a single set in the PVL, dropped to a 0-4 card tied with Gerflor.
No Highriser scored in double figures. Raprap Aguilar paced the Galeries with seven points, while Julia Ipac and Ysa Jimenez, who only played in the third set, scored five each.