Armed with new coach, Choco Mucho makes winning debut–while still feeling its way through new system


Maddie Madayag PVL

Maddie Madayag. PVL PHOTO

Dante Alinsunurin found himself in quite a spotlight as the new coach of a wildly popular squad.

“The crowd energizes me knowing that Choco Mucho has a lot of fans,” Alinsunurin said on Saturday after the Flying Titans’ rousing debut in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference. “I can see my [new] team receives a big boost from our supporters.”

Choco Mucho swept Akari, 25-15, 25-20, 25-20, at Smart Araneta Coliseum, even with the team still in the process of sponging up his system.

“I think [the team has absorbed] 60 to 70 percent [of the system] but of course, we still need to polish the things we want to do on the court,” Alinsunurin said after the game.

Luckily for the decorated men’s coach, his new squad is open to learning.

“Well everyone has an open mind about learning the new system because we all know it’s for our own good,” said Maddie Madayag, who had 11 points to chip in to the victory. “We’re happy that we’re learning a lot of things that we can apply to the game.”

Like Madayag, Bea De Leon and Kat Tolentino also had 11 points each for Choco Mucho as the trio of ex-Ateneo stars spoiled Dindin Santiago-Manabat’s debut as an Akari Charger.

ACL injury

Madayag, who suffered a left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last August 2021 during the PVL Open Conference Bacarra bubble, shone in her first start, 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.

Jhoana Maraguinot stopped the bleeding for the Chargers with back-to-back attacks. But De Leon restored order for the Flying Titans with two consecutive running attacks for a 22-17 advantage.

That was enough to set Alinsunurin up for a milestone victory.

First PVL win

“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, whose wards committed only 11 errors in the match.

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 points and had 14 excellent receptions and nine digs to help out libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla.

Manabat carried the cudgels of Akari with a game-high 17 points, while Janine Marciano had 12 points. The Chargers, however, gave away 23 on errors and didn’t score a single block kill in the game.

Madayag and the Flying Titans will now brace themselves for a tough encounter against Petro Gazz next week. The Angels are now being coached by former Choco Mucho strategist Oliver Almadro.

“We’re in good terms with coach O,” Madayag said, referring to her former Ateneo coach. “We’re excited to see how he has grown as a coach and what system he will implement [with Petro Gazz].”

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