KingWhale roars early

KingWhale Taipei made a rousing debut when it made short work of Army Black Mamba, 26-24, 25-18, 26-24, to claim its first win in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Taiwanese, the 2021-2022 silver medalists of the Taiwan Enterprise League, arrived in the country only last Saturday, but buckled down to work right away as they clobbered the Lady Troopers in just one hour and 36 minutes of action.

KingWhale head coach Teng Yen-Min said they fielded a mixture of veteran and young players so they can test their chemistry and other combinations in preparation for their upcoming domestic league this October.

They, however, couldn't afford to relax as they are stacked against powerhouse PLDT Home Fibr at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

"This is our first time to have a mixture of young and veteran players. Some of our players were nervous, but we're happy with the outcome of the match and it was very exciting," Teng, a 38-year-old mentor who also handled the University of Taipei, Attack Line Athletics and Chungkun Flying Eagles in a colorful seven-year coaching career.

"We're happy we fought today. In our next game against PLDT, we have to train hard so that we can do better."

Brazilian reinforcement Beatriz Flavio de Carvalho delivered an impressive display of volleyball prowess, firing 13 hits and an ace to finish with 15 points while Wang Yu-Wen and Wang Yu-Wen both scored 10 markers apiece.

The visiting squad was so dominant at the attack zone that it registered 47 hits, 17 more than the Lady Troopers, who are no stranger to facing foreign teams after beating Est Cola of Thailand in a dramatic final battle in the Philippine Superliga in 2016.

Jovelyn Gonzaga, the star of that memorable victory together with Rachel Anne Daquis, Mary Jean Balse and Tina Salak, fired eight points for the Lady Troopers, who suffered their fourth straight setback in the semifinals to kiss their title hopes goodbye.

With Kobe Shinwa Women's University and the national women's team begging off, the semifinals of this professional tourney had been reduced to only five teams.

The top two squads will compete in the sudden-death final showdown while the third and fourth seeds will slug it out for the bronze medal.

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