Choco Mucho beat Rebisco, 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-17, in a clash Wednesday of two national teams that have savored the needed international exposure.
“The game was really high energy. It was really a lot of fun to play,” said Choco Mucho main woman Kalei Mau, who scored five points in every set to finish with 20 points in the qualification match of the 21st Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship Wednesday at Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
“It was challenging playing against a younger team,” Mau added. “It was really great to be able to just find their tendencies and also work on ours and just work our creativity as a team.”
The victory was the first for Choco Mucho in the tournament and the wards of coach Arthur “Odjie” Mamon now has a chance to finish fifth if they beat Kazahkstan’s Zhetysu at 1:30 p.m. (Manila time) on Thursday.
The loss, on the other hand, sent Rebisco to seventh place in the championship that was the first international exposure of the national teams since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
It was also a historic showdown as two national teams played each other in an Asian Volleyball Confederation and International Volleyball Federation competition, according to Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.
MJ Phillips played her best game in the tournament with 13 points, including seven in the fourth set when Choco Mucho was in control, while Mylene Paat and Dell Palomata added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Ria Meneses produced four of Choco Mucho’s nine blocks, while Palomata was also solid in defending the net with three blocks.
“Obviously we are still trying to build up and it was a great game by both sides,” said the outside hitter Mau who switched federations middle of this year to be able to join the Philippine national team program that is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Rebisco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Asics.
For Rebisco’s players, they lost nothing but gained everything in terms of exposure with some of them accomplishing their senior debut.
“We got to play with our veteran ‘ates [elder sisters]. It was really a very good experience for us younger girls and we have learned a lot,” said Faith Nisperos, who led Rebisco with 12 kills. “This experience has been a very good step for us, especially us college students.”
Dindin Santiago-Manabat chipped in 11 points, while Mhicaela Belen, who at 19 is the youngest in the national squad, made 10 points.
Mamon admitted the victory was bittersweet.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to beat Rebisco, I really wanted the younger players to have more experience in this tournament, to get more exposure,” Mamon said. “But props to Mylene [Paat] and MJ [Phillips], they did a really good job today. Deanna [Wong] also controlled the pace of our offence today.”
Choco Mucho will be out to avenge its 22-25, 19-25, 15-25 loss to Zhetysu in the preliminaries.