Choco Mucho closed out their 2021 Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship camapaign in sixth place after losing to Zhetysu of Kazakhstan, 14-25, 11-25, 23-25, at the Terminal 21 Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand on Thursday (7 October).
The Philippine club got a solid scoring production from Kalei Mau, but it was far from enough to overcome the brilliance of the nine-time Kazakhstan women's league champions.
Driven to secure the fifth place in the seven-team tournament, the Kazakhs asserted dominance both on offense and defense while pouncing on the erratic performances of the Filipinas, who surrendered 28 errors in three sets.
It was a resounding sweep for Zhetysu, but Choco Mucho refused to go down without a fight.
Staring at a 15-22 deficit in the decisive third set, Choco Mucho made a series of momentum-swinging plays that trimmed Zhetysu's lead down to three at 19-22.
The Kazakhs managed to stop the bleeding following an error from Gel Cayuna, before Mau and Ria Meneses tipped the scales back to Choco Mucho to forge a deadlock at 23-all.
With a lease on life in sight, the Filipinas tried to go for broke but Zhetysu proved too composed down the stretch as Valeriya Chumak buoyed her side at match point, setting up Mau's crucial error that ended the match in straight sets.
Valeriya Shatunova spearheaded Zhetysu with 13 points while Tatyama Nikitina and Chumak supplemented nine and seven points apiece.
Net defense also made the difference for the Kazakhstan club team, as setter Natalya Akilova put up five of her team's 11 blocks.
On the other hand, Choco Mucho, a day after breaking through the win column at the expense of fellow Philippine team Rebisco, could not sustain momentum.
Mau paced the losing side with 12 points built on eight attacks and four blocks while Ria Meneses chimed in six points of her own.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.