A straight-set escape and a five-set reversal have pushed KingWhale-Taipei closer to a dream finals appearance – and a nightmare of sorts for two local squads – and the visiting team sets out for a third straight victory and a crack at the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference crown.
“The competition made us learn and it taught us many things,” said KingWhale coach Teng Yen-Min after the Taiwanese stunned the PLDT High Speed Hitters in a big fifth set rally to hack out a 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 victory at the SM MOA Arena last Tuesday.
The win came on the heels of their 26-24, 25-18, 26-24 triumph over the Army Lady Troopers Monday, giving the Taiwanese a clear shot at the second championship berth.
But they are in for a tougher session today.
Ranged against Creamline, KingWhale-Taipei will need to draw the best from its mix of old and young crew, led by heavy-hitter Bea Carvalho, to complete a surprising semis campaign in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
The lone match is set at 4 p.m. at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan with the Cool Smashers, who benefitted from the Taiwanese win over the High Speed Hitters and headed straight to the finals with a 3-0 card, fancied to get past the guest squad.
But Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses doesn’t want to take any chances and is expected to make full use of his powerhouse roster despite being assured of a second straight finals appearance, describing the Taiwanese “a very exciting team.”
KingWhale-Taipei’s twin victories coupled with PLDT’s (2-2) skid and Cignal (1-2) shaky semis outing actually gave the former three chances for the finals. Even if they drop their last two matches, including against Cignal tomorrow (Saturday), they could still barge into the finals depending on their performance against Creamline and Cignal via tiebreak.
Young Lian Yi-Jen and Carvalho have anchored the team’s surge with superb playmaking and hitting, respectively, while the likes of Wang Yu-Wen, Chen Li-Jun, Chen Chieh and Tsai Qin-Yao and the rest have provided the solid backup which they need to showcase against the Cool Smashers.
Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza and setter Jia de Guzman can’t wait to test the Taiwanese mettle with Meneses also likely to test on new combinations from among Michelle Gumabao, Celine Domingo, Pangs Panaga and Risa Sato in an attempt to sustain their win run all the way to the finals, a winner-take-all match on Sunday, back at the MOA Arena.
The champion, with a few reinforcements, will also represent the country in the AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Championship for Women unfolding Aug. 21 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Creamline-KingWhale Taipei match will be aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD). Both channels are also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.
The game can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website pvl.ph.