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Finals spot on KingWhale radar

Game today:
(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
4 p.m. — KingWhale vs Creamline

KingWhale Taipei shoots for its third straight win and a crack at the finals when it battles Creamline in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference today at the FilOil EcoOil Arena in San Juan.

Action starts at 4 p.m. with the Taiwanese seeking a crucial win that will send them to the finals of this prestigious professional tourney.

The Cool Smashers booked the first finals spot following a four-set win over Army Black Mamba, five-set conquest of PLDT Home Fibr and three-set victory over Cignal to emerge as the hottest team in this midseason conference.

Out to foil the Cool Smashers title defense are the Taiwanese, who blew hot and cold in their first two games.

After making short work of the Lady Troopers, 26-24, 25-18, 26-24, the guest team flirted with disaster before banking on a big fifth-set finish to hack out a 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 victory over the High Speed Hitters at the Mall of Asia Arena last Tuesday.

“The competition made us learn and it taught us many things,” KingWhale coach Teng Yen-Min said after stunning the High Speed Hitters.

But against the Cool Smashers, the visitors are in for a tougher session.

KingWhale will need to draw the best from its mix of old and young crew, led by heavy-hitter Bea Carvalho of Brazil, to complete a surprising semis campaign.

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.”

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.

The champion will also represent the country in the AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Championship for Women from 21 to 29 August at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

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