MANILA, Philippines – KingWhale Taipei continued to impress in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference with a five-set heist against the PLDT High Speed Hitters, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday, August 9.
With the win, KingWhale rose to a 2-0 record in its second straight game day, and helped 3-0 Creamline clinch the first spot in the gold medal match by sending PLDT to a 2-2 finish in the semifinal round.
The Cignal HD Spikers, currently holding a 1-2 record, can also only go as high as 2-2, while the Army Black Mamba Lady Troopers already bottomed out at 0-4.
Liao Yi-Jen again starred for Taipei and poured in 36 excellent sets to best Rhea Dimaculangan’s 32-excellent set effort, while Brazilian import Beatriz Carvalho led four teammates in double-digit scoring with 19 points off 15 attacks, 3 blocks, and 1 ace.
Despite falling in a close third-set war, PLDT rallied with a decisive fourth-set finish, and even led 12-8 late in the do-or-die fifth frame off a Jules Samonte hit.
However, the local team’s defense faltered at the worst time possible as KingWhale fired off a 6-0 response capped by a Chen Li-Jun kill for the 14-12 match point.
Jovy Prado only managed to save one match point before a Mika Reyes service error put an unceremonious end to PLDT’s late collapse.
Middle blockers Dell Palomata and Reyes carried the offense behind Dimaculangan’s playmaking with 19 and 17 points, respectively, while the much-improved Samonte scored 16.
Former PVL Best Libero Kath Arado tallied 27 excellent digs and 24 excellent receptions, while Prado saw her triple-double of 11 points, 22 excellent receptions, and 20 excellent digs go to waste in the heartbreaking loss.
KingWhale can now seize the second spot in the knockout final with a highly anticipated match against Creamline on Friday, August 12, 4 pm, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
Meanwhile, PLDT now hopes that Taipei loses its last two assignments to even have a shot at the gold medal match by way of the tiebreaker system. – Rappler.com