Kingwhale-Taipei checked on its lapses while pouncing on PLDT ‘s blunders, pulling off a shock 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 15-13 victory to fuel its title drive while giving idle Creamline a free ride to the finals in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Tuesday.
The Taiwanese blew a 2-1 set lead but battled back from four points down late in the decider, closing out with a stinging 7-1 run aided by three PLDT miscues, including a Mika Reyes’ serve that failed to clear the net.
Jules Samonte scored on a superb PLDT combo play that made it 12-8 but failed on her backrow attack after a long frenetic rally for a key point that the visiting squad used as a springboard to launch its stirring comeback following a straight-set romp over Army in their PVL debut Monday.
Back-to-back through-the-block hits by Chen Li-Jun put PLDT on pins and needles and the High Speed Hitters crack in the face of the Taiwanese mighty fightback with Tsai Qin-Yao’s off-speed hit leveling the count at 12.
A Chin Basas attack error shoved Kingwhale on top and Chen Li-Jung put the team at match point on a block touch before Jovie Prado ended the long PLDT spell with a blast on her second attack, sending Reyes to the service line.
But the former La Salle stalwart failed to deliver, enabling Kingwhale to clinch the draining two-hour, 25-minute lone match in the five-team semifinals of the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
With a 2-0 slate, Kingwhale seized solo second even as Creamline, unbeaten in three matches, took the first final berth without suiting up.
The Cool Smashers go for a sweep against Kingwhale on Friday back at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan as the league takes a two-day break today and tomorrow. The lone visiting squad closes out the semis phase against Cignal on Saturday.
It was another sorry defeat for PLDT, which also lost a five-setter to PLDT last Saturday. At 2-2, it could hope for Kingwhale to drop its last two games to force a three-way tie at second with the superior tiebreak points to face Creamline in a winner-take-all match on Sunday, back at the MOA Arena.
PLDT produced 73 attack points, 10 more than Kingwhale, a mix of young and old, but yielded 37 points in errors as the Taiwanese, who finished with 26 miscues, played it smart all throughout and never gave up to squeeze out the thrilling victory.
Kingwhale also bucked the sidelining of Brazilian import Bea Flavio de Carvalho, who cramped out after an attack that pulled the team within, 10-11, early in the fourth set. But the High Speed Hitters cashed in on her absence as PLDT coach George Pascua went to his “middles” to spark their surge that however fell short in the end.
“They are very strong and they are cooperative. Today’s (yesterday) competition made us learn and it taught us many things. Their coach (Pascua) is very smart,” said Kingwhale-Taipei coach Teng Yen-Min.
“In set 5, my players are doing their best, and they made themselves strong in their body and heart,” added Teng.
Dell Palomata and Reyes alternated and dumped in quick hits after quick hits to steer the team to the fourth-set victory with Palomata sustaining her scoring spree ithe decider, the last giving the team a 7-4 lead lead before Samonte took over to give the High Speed Hitters a four-point cushion, 12-8.
But the Taiwanese had other things in mind.
Flavio de Carvalho, who returned late in the fourth, still topscored for the team with 19 points after a 14-hit effort against Army, while Li-Jun finished with 13 and Chen Chieh and Qin-Yao backed them up with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Palomata matched Flavio de Carvalho’s output while Reyes had 17 points and Samonte, Prado and Chin Basas finished with 16, 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the High Speed Hitters.