Choco Mucho's emerging libero Thang Ponce has played a pivotal role in guiding the Flying Titans to their sixth consecutive triumph in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League Second All-Filipino Conference.
Facing a resilient Petro Gazz squad at the Filoil EcoOil Centre, the Flying Titans showcased their mettle by overcoming a first-set setback, ultimately securing a decisive 18-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-16 victory on Thursday.
Ponce, the linchpin of Choco Mucho's defense, revealed a crucial tweak made after a challenging first frame, a move that ignited the team's momentum for the rest of the match. "As coach mentioned, our problem was in reception, so I tightened our reception to eliminate any weaknesses they could exploit. We just adjusted," shared Ponce, underscoring the importance of adaptability in the heat of competition.
The adjustment proved to be a game-changer, with Ponce's defensive prowess setting the tone for the Flying Titans' remarkable comeback. Since their opening-day defeat against Creamline, Choco Mucho has yet to taste defeat, a testament to their resilience and commitment to improvement.
Head coach Dante Alinsunurin commended Ponce's elevated gameplay, highlighting a conversation that spurred her improved performance. "I told her she would be given a chance. So when she got that chance, I really told her not to let go of it as long as she could, whatever happens to her, she can handle it," recalled Alinsunurin.
Ponce's stat line was a testament to her impact on the court, finishing with 20 digs, nine excellent receptions, and a rare point scored—an over-received ball that dropped perfectly to secure the match point.
"I am impressed that whatever confidence was given to her, she reciprocates it. It's really important that she delivers every game because our floor defense starts there, and our team is more motivated when she's there," added Alinsunurin, acknowledging the vital role Ponce plays in bolstering the team's floor defense.
Despite Alinsunurin's reserved demeanor, Ponce recognizes the unwavering support from her coach, expressing gratitude for the trust bestowed upon her. As of November 14, the talented libero leads the league in both receiving (48.91 percent efficiency) and digging (5.11 per set), solidifying her status as a defensive powerhouse.
With Choco Mucho's red-hot streak, the team now shares the second spot with Chery Tiggo, both boasting impressive 6-1 records. "He doesn't speak much, but I feel his immense trust in me," said Ponce, emphasizing the unspoken bond and confidence that fuels her outstanding performances on the court.