MANILA, Philippines -- Unbeaten KingWhale Taipei is anticipating a difficult match when they take on the Creamline Cool Smashers in the semifinals of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference.
KingWhale has won both of its matches in the semifinals, including a thrilling five-setter against PLDT on Tuesday evening. They will now play a fellow undefeated team in Creamline, with the Cool Smashers having gone 3-0 in the semis.
PLDT's loss also assured Creamline of a spot in the gold medal match.
"I know Creamline is a strong team in the Philippines," KingWhale coach Teng Yen-Min said. "We are challenged. We will try, because we have many young players."
Making the match all the more special for Teng is that she gets to reunite with Creamline star Alyssa Valdez, who played for her in Attack Line in 2017.
"I'm happy to meet Alyssa, because she played in Taiwan for one season," said Teng, who steered KingWhale to second place in the Taiwan Enterprise League last season before accepting the PVL's invitation to be a guest team.
"We have many good talks, and it's good for us. For four years, we didn't meet. I'm so excited. Alyssa, I know how she plays," she added.
Valdez, for her part, is also looking forward to facing off against her head coach.
"May history din ako with them. But, what I've known, iba rin talaga ang culture nila when they play. Iba rin ang galawan ng Taipei. I'm just really happy na mawe-welcome natin sila dito and for the first time makakalaban ko si coach," she said.
"Lagi talagang nakakalaban namin sila coach 'pag Chinese-Taipei ang kalaban namin, 'pag mga AVC, mga Philippine team. But now, as a club team, first time ko sila makakalaban," she added.
The Taiwanese club has already gained plenty of fans in the Philippines, with setter Liao Yi-Jen in particular endearing herself to the local audience.
"I'm just really happy na andito sila. I'm really looking forward na ma-enjoy nila ang crowd ng Philippines, and ma-enjoy nila ang stay nila sa Pilipinas," said Valdez.
KingWhale vs. Creamline is the lone match scheduled for Friday, with opening serve set for 4 p.m. at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.