UNBEATEN KingWhale Taipei is off to the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference finals after dealing Creamline a first loss, 25-15, 17-25, 25-22, 24-26, 15-5, on Friday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
Chen Li-jun led the way with 17 points off 16 attacks and an acea as the Taiwanese side sealed a grudge match with the Cool Smashers on Sunday in a winner-take-all gold medal match at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Skipper and setter Liao Yi-jen outplayed the league's leading playmaker Jia De Guzman as she dished out 38 excellent sets against the Cool Smashers ace's 18, leading three KingWhale players in double figures in scoring.
Brazilian reinforcement Beatriz Flavio de Carvalho led all scorers with 24 points off 19 attacks and three aces as the Taiwanese club survived its second five-set match in three games to stay perfect at 3-0.
Alyssa injury scare
"Because Creamline is a great team in Philippines, we had a two-day break and do our effort," said head coach Teng Yen-min.
Leading two sets to one, KingWhale was looking to wrap the match up in the fourth set against a Creamline side that saw team captain Alyssa Valdez exit late in the third set after an apparent injury.
But the Cool Smashers' second stringers held their ground and forced a decider in an extended fourth set, 26-24.
Chang Chih-hsuan led KingWhale in the lopsided fifth set with 14 points and 12 digs off the bench, as they pounced on an error-plagued Cool Smashers with nine attacks against Creamline's two.
Tots Carlos paced Creamline with 15 points, while Valdez and Michelle Gumabao had 11 points each.