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Kat Tolentino too much for Army as Choco Mucho nears first semis slot

Kat Tolentino and Choco Mucho easily took care of Black Mamba-Army to stay unbeaten in the PVL Open Conference. PVL Media Bureau

BACARRA, ILOCOS NORTE - On the back of Kat Tolentino, Choco Mucho imposed its will on Black Mamba-Army to pound out another convincing victory, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19 and push nearer to the first semifinal berth in the 2021 PVL Open Conference, Monday at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center here.

Tolentino delivered the goods with 18 points, all on attacks, while Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston backstopped her with 11 and 10 hits, respectively. The Flying Titans extended their win run to six - one more and they assure themselves of a spot in postseason play of the country's first pro volley league.

"I'm happy with how Kat's playing, but I know she can do more," noted head coach Oliver Almadro of the opposite hitter who has been his ward from their time together in Ateneo.

"I think it was a team win. Everyone contributed with receive, defense, setting, spiking," remarked Tolentino, for her part, after they dominated their hour-and-a half-match. "I wouldn't be able to spike without these girls and their consistent effort."

Indeed, the league's tallest team made up of a triple-tower in Tolentino, Madayag, and Bea de Leon came away with eight blocks, seven more than its rival, while producing 43 attack points against Army's 32.

The league's lone unbeaten team raced to a 12-point bulge in the third, but yielded the next eight points, sparking hopes for a big comeback by the Lady Troopers who were only down, 19-23. Choco Mucho's height proved to be the difference-maker, however, as Army's last two spikes did not even reach the triple-tower's hands and went straight into the net.

The Lady Troopers, who drew 10 points apiece from Ging Balse-Pabayo and Royse Tubino, dropped to 2-4 in a costly setback that dimmed their semis chances.

Meanwhile, Creamline took out its frustrations on also-ran Cignal in straight sets, 25-22, 27-25, 25-19, to get back on track after getting derailed for the first time by Chery Tiggo last Friday.

The Cool Smashers needed to work for it, however, as the HD Spikers even led late in the third before Alyssa Valdez took over for the last points in her final output of 14. Michele Gumabao chimed in 11 markers while Jema Galanza had 10 of her own for the defending champions who still stand at solo second at 6-1 and remain guaranteed of at least a playoff for a semis slot. Cignal, on the other hand, dropped to joint ninth with PLDT Home Fibr at 1-6 even after a breakout 13-hit performance from Klarissa Abriam.