Choco Mucho yielded to Zhetysu of Kazakhstan in straight sets, 22-25, 19-25, 15-25, in the 2021 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship on Saturday (2 October) at the Terminal 21 Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Reminiscent of its campaign-opening loss to Nakhon Ratchasima QminC a day ago, the Philippine club team delivered a gallant stand but it proved no match against the nine-time Kazakhstan women's league champions.
The loss pushed Choco Mucho down the bottom of Pool A at third place with a 0-2 win-loss record in the preliminaries.
Anastasiya Gurbanova unloaded 19 points off 16 kills and three blocks to lead all scorers, while Valeriya Shatunova and Svetlan Parukova supplemented 14 points apiece.
On the other hand, Kalei Mau topped the losing side with 11 points while Tin Tiamzon managed eight of her own. Ria Meneses and Mylene Paat added seven points each in the loss.
Leaning on prolific scorer Mau, the Filipinas managed to keep up with their seasoned opponents in the decisive third set, 11-15.
However, the Kazakhs unleashed a searing run where a four-point cushion ballooned into a nine-point advantage, 24-15, setting up Natalya Akilova's match-clinching hit.
In the second set, Paat and Tiamzon carried the offensive load as Choco Mucho forged a deadlock at 16-all, but Zhetysu's finishing kick spelled all the difference down the stretch en route to a two-set buffer.
Choco Mucho's strongest showing came in the opening set, where Paat threatened to snatch the lead out of Zhetysu's crutches after trimming a late five-point deficit down to two at 22-24 before falling short of a comeback.
Choco Mucho will attempt for a breakthrough win when it returns to action in the quarterfinal round on Monday.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.