PVL: Choco Mucho rues another tough exit

Choco Mucho coach Edjet Mabbayad. –PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Choco Mucho coach Edjet Mabbayad said there was a heavy atmosphere at the team’s dugout after the Flying Titans’ desire to win was not enough to get them the last bus ride to the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference semifinals.

With import Odina Aliyeva just coming out of the league’s health and safety protocols and Des Cheng and Kat Tolentino going down with injuries in the third set, Choco Mucho handed the last semis spot to Cignal, 25-17, 22-25, 18-25, 14-25, on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.

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Mabbayad, who called the shots on an interim basis in the last three games after Oliver Almadro’s sudden resignation, said his wards were determined to make it to the semis only for the HD Spikers’ import Tai Bierria to slam the door on them, handing a heartbreaking defeat.

“Siyempre, mabigat. Talaga, siyempre, talo eh. Sobrang bigat ng atmosphere sa loob ng dugout,” said the Choco Mucho coach. “Makikita mo, talagang gusto nilang manalo during that game. Pero talagang nangyari ang mangyayari eh. ‘Yun lang, ‘yun ang pakiramdam nila, sobra.”

(The mood was heavy. There was a heavy atmosphere inside the dugout. They really wanted to win during that game. But what was supposed to happen, happened.)

Mabbayad said the Flying Titans never lost their will to win even when the HD Spikers clinched the last semis berth even before the match ended with their third set win for a 2-1 match advantage, which gave them an edge to break the tie via the points system.

It was hard for Choco Mucho to pull off a comeback after Tolentino hurt her left knee in the third set followed by Cheng, whose right pinky finger was plastered with a splint.

“I think because of what happened to Kat and Des earlier. We didn’t expect it. It added a burden on our game,” said Mabbayad in Filipino.

WATCH: Kat Tolentino hurt her left knee after trying to dig Tai Bierria’s attack midway in the third set.She was carried by her teammates off the court. #PVLReinforcedConference2022 | via Lance Agcaoili/Inquirer Sports

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Posted by Inquirer Sports on Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Cheng wasn’t able to return and left with 15 points, while Tolentino came back in the fourth but Cignal was already in full control as she finished with nine markers. Aliyeva also struggled with an 8-of-30 attacking clip.

Despite missing the semis for the second straight conference, Mabbayad was relieved that Tolentino is okay, but Cheng seemed to have sufferred a tear on the tendon of her finger based on their initial diagnosis

“Kat is okay. But I think Des needs more time to heal because there seems to be a tear on the tendon,” Mabbayad said. “Kat only had a wrong move that hurt her. But it’s not serious. Des doesn’t need surgery. It will heal in time.”