MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Guest team KingWhale Taipei shone in its debut in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL), sweeping Army Black Mamba on Monday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
KingWhale displayed its poise to come away with a 26-24, 25-18, 26-24 win against the Lady Troopers for a victorious start to the 2022 PVL Invitational Conference semifinals.
The result doomed Army to a 0-4 record in the semis, booting them out of contention for a podium finish in the tournament.
"This is the first time that KingWhale mixed the young players and old players, in this tournament in the Philippines. They're happy that the PVL invited KingWhale Taipei to go here," KingWhale coach Teng Yen-Min said after the game.
KingWhale's Brazilian import, Beatriz Carvalho, spearheaded the charge with 14 points, while Chen Li-Jun and Wang Yu-Wen each scored 10 points. The visitors had a 47-30 advantage in kills against the Lady Troopers.
Team captain and setter Liao Yi-Jen was credited with 22 excellent sets in just three frames, as KingWhale wrapped up the match in an hour and 36 minutes.
Army looked poised to snatch the first set after a mishit by Carvalho put them at set point, 24-23, but the visitors responded with three straight points, capped by a hit from Chen Li-Jun, to take the opening frame.
They rode that momentum to grab a comfortable victory in Set 2, but the Lady Troopers displayed their grit as they dragged KingWhale to a tight third set.
Army seized a 23-21 lead after back-to-back points by Jem Gutierrez and another hitting error by Carvalho. But the Brazilian made up for her miscue with an offspeed hit, before Chang Chih-Hsuan scored off the Army blockers to make it 23-all.
The Lady Troopers last took the lead when Jovelyn Gonzaga's hit made it 24-23. Her attack was made possible by libero Angela Nunag, who dove for a save of a running hit by KingWhale quicker Tsai Qin-Yao.
Chang was unstoppable down the stretch, however, as she forced an extension with a booming hit at the middle. A block by Wang on Gutierrez put KingWhale at match point, 25-24, and Chang's hit off the Army blockers wrapped up the match.
"They were fighting," Teng said of the KingWhale players. "The combination was a little different in Taiwan. I hope in the next game tomorrow against PLDT, we can be better than today."
No player reached double-digits for the Lady Troopers, with Gonzaga putting up eight points. Army finished the Invitational Conference with five consecutive losses.
KingWhale, which arrived in Manila last Saturday, is coming off a second-place finish in the 2021-22 season of the Taiwan Enterprise League. They are back in action on Tuesday against the PLDT High Speed Hitters (2-1), still at the MOA Arena.