PVL: Finals-bound KingWhale completes semis sweep, beats Cignal
MANILA, Philippines — KingWhale banked on its second stringers to take down Cignal in a no-bearing game, 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, 25-22, and complete a four-game semifinal sweep of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference on Saturday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
Taipei coach Teng Yen-Min used the luxury of rotating its roster in a no-bearing game but her young squad took advantage of the depleted HD Spikers, who rested Ria Meneses and Ces Molina due to health issues and Rachel Anne Daquis due to cramps late in the third set, to remain unbeaten in four games before facing Creamline in a winner-take-all final on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Teng is worried about Alyssa Valdez’s condition after suffering a left ankle sprain in their five-set match on Friday. But KingWhale is expecting a different Creamline in their 5:30 p.m. final match, as Jema Galanza and Jeanette Panaga are expected to return and Valdez, according to her teammate Michele Gumabao, is “okay” and likely to rejoin Open Conference MVP Tots Carlos and setter Jia De Guzman.
“Most importantly, I wish that Alyssa can play tomorrow, and to begin with, I was very concerned with Alyssa. But today’s match with Cignal was good preparation for tomorrow (Sunday),” Teng said through an interpreter. “The main purpose of today was to let the younger members take part in order to see what they can do.”
Germina Jacobs proved her worth in her first start for KingWhale this Invitational Conference, unleashing a game-high 19 points built on 17 kills and two clutch aces in the third set with 16 digs as their starters, led by setter Liao Yi-Jen, played sparingly.
“At first, I was very nervous, since this is my first time being on the field. But, there was an adjustment. In the end, I think that my team helped me play well,” said Jacobs. “It might be more difficult since it’s a bigger venue tomorrow but I will do my best to communicate well with my team and do well and win.”
Brazilian import Beatriz Carvalho still finished with nine points despite playing only in the first two sets. Chang Chih-Hsuan also scored nine points and had 14 receptions, while Wang Yu-Wen and Chen Chieh added eight each.
After losing the second set by 10 points, KingWhale’s second unit fought back from an 11-16 deficit and took a 19-17 advantage. Jackie Acuna and Rose Doria restored the orders for Cignal before Jerrili Malabanan and Angeli Araneta regained a 20-21 advantage.
But Chen Chieh nailed timely hits and Jacobs’ ace gave Taipei a 23-21 lead. Daquis succumbed to cramps when she tried to save Chang’s attack that brought KingWhale at set point, 24-21, before Jacobs scored another ace to take a 2-1 advantage.
When KingWhale took control of the fourth set reaching match point, 24-20, Cignal tried to make a final push saving two match points from Chai Troncoso’s clutch hit and an attack error from Chang only for Tsai Qin-Yao to end the game with a strong attack from the middle.
Araneta led the HD Spikers with 15 points and 17 digs. Malabanan and Doria had 13 points each, while Daquis had nine markers before cramping up late in the third set.
The HD Spikers lost three of their four semis games. They will face their sister team, PLDT High Speed Hitters, in a bronze medal match at 2:30 p.m.