After three years of frustration, Petron finally took the championship as they hammered a 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18 victory over F2 Logistics to clinch the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix crown last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Imports Katherine Bell and Lindsay Stalzer delivered, spearheading the Blaze Spikers to an impressive win over the Cargo Movers in Game 3 of their best-of-three finals series of this prestigious club league bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Bell tallied 25 kills and three blocks for 28 points while Stalzer had 20 kills, three aces and a block for 24 points for the Blaze Spikers, who hung tough after nearly squandering a huge 10-point edge in the fourth set en route to the victory.
More than anything else, it was Stalzer who took home the biggest prize of all – the Most Valuable Player award.
But climbing back to the Grand Prix throne wasn’t easy for the Blaze Spikers.
Despite posting a commanding 9-1 mark in the classifications, Petron had to make a bold move of changing its import as original choice Hillary Hurley crashed with an ankle injury.
Bell, a seasoned international campaigner from University of Texas, came in and turned things around, leading the Blaze Spikers to a pair of impressive wins over Cocolife in the semifinals.
In the finals, Petron had to crawl back from two sets down to capture a thrilling five set victory in Game 1 before absorbing a straight-set loss to a well-oiled F2 Logistics squad in Game 2 to set the stage for a kill-or-be killed Game 3.
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos knew that anything could happen.
“This is such a sweet victory. Finally, we’re back on top,” said Delos Santos, who was part of the coaching staff of George Pascua when the Blaze Spikers last won the Grand Prix title in 2014.
After that 2014 victory, the Blaze Spikers suffered back-to-back heartaches as Foton ruled the import-flavored conference. Then last year, Petron pushed F2 Logistics to the brink before suffering a painful setback in Game 3. Finally, it’s over– The Blaze Spikers are the queens of the Grand Prix once more and nothing could be sweeter than being reunited with their long lost crown.
Most Valuable Player: Lindsay Stalzer (Petron)
1st Best Open Spiker: Sara Klisura (Cocolife)
2nd Best Open Spiker: MJ Perez (F2 Logistics)
1st Best Middle blocker: Aby Maraño (F2 Logistics)
2nd Best Middle blocker: Mika Reyes (Petron)
Best Setter: Kim Fajardo (F2 Logistics)
1st Best Opposite Spiker: Elizabeth Wendel (Foton)
2nd Best: Kennedy Bryan (F2 Logistics)
1st Best Libero: Minami Yoshioka (F2 Logistics)
2nd Best Libero: Kaca Vukomanovic (Foton)