Blazing Petron pens perfect ending to PSL campaign
MANILA, Philippines – Petron penned a fitting end in its quest for redemption when it finally clinched the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix crown before a roaring weekend crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Imports Lindsay Stalzer and Katherine Bell were the stars of the show as they powered the Blaze Spikers to a thrilling 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18 victory over F2 Logistics in Game 3 of their best-of-3 finals duel.
It was such an emotional victory for the Blaze Spikers as they finally overcame 3 years of heartaches in what is billed as the toughest, most competitive conference in Philippine volleyball.
And for Stalzer, there’s nothing sweeter than being back on top.
“Of course, it feels amazing,” said Stalzer shortly after winning her second Grand Prix title and second Most Valuable Player award in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
“Last season left a bitter taste in my mouth. So, it’s so awesome when you set a goal and you work towards that goal every single day and it finally paid off. It’s a great feeling for all of us.”
Stalzer admitted that the trail back to the throne was littered with a lot of tears and frustrations.
After a painful loss to the Cargo Movers in the finale of the Grand Prix last year, the Blaze Spikers kept their core players Stalzer, Hillary Hurley, Rhea Dimaculangan, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Carmela Tunay, Mika Reyes and Remy Palma intact with an ultimate objective of halting their three-year title drought.
But things didn’t go on as planned.
Hurley, the team’s best offensive weapon, crashed with an ankle injury that left Petron huffing and puffing in the crucial stretch of the classifications and the quarterfinals against Generika-Ayala.
Then, the Blaze Spikers rolled the dice and replaced Hurley with Bell.
The gamble paid off as Bell led Petron to back-to-back wins over Cocolife in the semi-finals. Then in Game 1 of the finals, she erupted with 42 points – the highest scoring output since the 56 points tallied by Cuban Gyselle Silva last month.
“Kath provided an immense support to me,” said Stalzer. “Just all the things she said to me, the appreciation and the maturity and the composure that she has, I’m so grateful and lucky that she joined our team.”
“She’s a high class, high level player.”
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos said the win came at a perfect time as 3 years of failure in the Grand Prix of this tourney have been hurting them.
“After 3 conferences of the Grand Prix, finally we made it,” said Delos Santos, who was an assistant coach in 2014 when Petron last won the Grand Prix conference of the tournament also backed by Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to explain this feeling. I’m just so happy that we finally achieved our goal and took home the crown.”
Before the team stepped off the podium, Delos Santos congratulated his American imports again: “Girls, we finished our business. Good job.”
Petron is finally back on top. – Rappler.com