KingWhale Taipei delivered a masterful performance down the stretch to pull off a thrilling 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 victory over PLDT Home Fibr in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Brazilian import Beatriz Flavio de Carvalho led the assault while Chen Li-Jun, Chen Chieh and Tsai Qin Yao chipped in significant numbers for the visiting team to crush the High Speed Hitters in a grueling two hours and 37 minutes of action.
The victory was the second straight for the Taiwanese, setting the stage for their highly-anticipated battle against reigning champion Creamline at the FilOil EcoOil Arena on Friday.
The Cool Smashers have also yet to lose a single match, making their game very important for the red-hot Taiwanese, who are looking to win over Cignal on Friday to book a ticket to the winner-take-all final match on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The High Speed Hitters, for their part, suffered their second loss in four games in the semis that formally boots them out of title contention and, possibly, a chance to represent the country in the AVC Cup that the country will host from 21 to 29 August at Philsports Arena.
Flavio de Carvalho was impressive on both ends, firing 15 kills and three blocks for a 19-hit effort while Li-Jun, Chieh and Tsai added 13, 11 and 10 markers, respectively, for the silver medalists of the Taiwan Enterprise League, who made short work of Black Mamba Army in their debut performance.
But eking out a thrilling win at a hostile venue wasn’t easy.
KingWhale head coach Teng Yen-Min said they had to dig deep in the fifth set to get over a determined PLDT side.
“PLDT is strong. Today really made us learn a lot of things in the match. The PLDT coach is smart,” Teng said.
“I believed my players had to strengthen their hearts and minds for the win.”
Middle blocker Dell Palomata had 19 points while Mika Reyes fired 17 markers for the High Speed Hitters, who had a sizzling run in the fourth set only to lose their steam in the decider after falling to a maze of errors.
Jules Samonte chipped in 16 points while Jovielyn Prado and Chin Basas connived for 21 markers for the home team.