February 21, 2024

How Dante Alinsunurin pushes rising star Thang Ponce to shine for Choco Mucho

How Dante Alinsunurin pushes rising star Thang Ponce to shine for Choco Mucho

Top digger. Top receiver. Now, Choco Mucho Flying Titans libero Thang Ponce can boast she can set and score a point too.

In Set 2 of their match against the Petro Gazz Angels on Thursday in the PVL Second All-Filipino Conference, Ponce saved the ball with a pancake dive to keep the rally alive.

The ball was returned to Choco Mucho with setter Deanna Wong getting the dig. Ponce got back in time to set the ball high enough for spiker Sisi Rondina's kill.

In Set 4, Ponce managed to get a one-handed dig on the ball. It bounced way back inside the Petro Gazz court and behind the blockers.

Match point, Choco Mucho.


Ponce's 20 excellent digs and nine excellent receptions helped the Flying Titans win the match, 18-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-16.


It was also the second Player of the Game honor for the Choco Mucho libero, who started to shine during their stint in the VTV Cup.


RELATED STORY: Thang Ponce shares constant reminders from fellow libero teammate Denden Lazaro-Revilla 


Coach Dante Alinsunurin shared what he told Ponce early in the conference to make her blossom.


"Nabigyan siya ng chance. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Wag mo na bibitawan 'yan. Hangga't kakayanin mo.' Siguro napabilib ako sa kung ano nabigay ko sa kanya na kumpyansa," he told reporters after the match.


Even during practice, Alinsunurin recounted how Ponce has helped boost the team.


"'Dun kami nagsisimula sa floor defense namin, mas ginaganahan kami 'pag andyan siya."


The libero though admitted that she still has a long way to go.


"Nararamdaman ko na malaki tiwala niya sa'kin. Unti-unti pa, andun na kami so kailangan lang namin ipagpatuloy pa," she said.


The confidence boost for Ponce has been infectious. In their match against the Galeries Tower Highrisers, she helped push Regine Arocha to score eight points during a huddle.


"Kaya mo yan!" Ponce said, "Ipakita mo kung sino ka!"


@onesportsplus "Ipakita mo kung sino ka!" 🍫 Pinakita naman as Regine Arocha scored eight points for Choco Mucho against Galeries Tower. #PVL2023 #TheHeartOfVolleyball ? original sound - onesportsplus

Ponce remains the league's top digger after Thursday's matches with an average of 5.09 per set. She is also currently the best receiver with a 47.79% efficiency.


Choco Mucho will try to extend its six-game winning streak when it takes on the reeling F2 Logistics Cargo Movers next Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.


(With reports from Jamie Velasco, One Sports Digital)