By Jerome Lagunzad
(The Arena, San Juan City)
4:15 p.m. – Cignal vs Generika-Ayala
7 p.m. – Sta. Lucia vs Smart
American import Lindsay Stalzer did what she does best down the stretch last night as Petron outlasted Cocolife, 25-14, 23-25, 15-25, 25-14, 15-13, in a cardiac finish to regain the top spot in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan City.
Proving why she remains as the standard among the league’s touted reinforcements, the 6-foot-1 Stalzer took matters into her own hands in the fifth and decisive set, scoring a pair of clutch hits that enabled the Blaze Spikers to hold off the erstwhile streaking Asset Managers in two hours of slam-bang action.
More importantly, Petron restored its shattered confidence following a straight-set loss to Sta. Lucia last week and finished its campaign in the preliminary round with a near flawless 9-1 mark.
Cocolife, which brought in a new import in Serbian Marta Drpa, took a 2-1 set lead but couldn’t deliver the knockout blows, leading to its fourth loss in 10 matches, still good for third spot.
Stalzer, a one-time tournament MVP, finished with 21 attacks in another day at the office, highlighted by a strong kill off the block for the go-ahead point and following it up with a crafty hit using her off-hand over Cocolife counterpart Sara Klisura and veteran Jean Balse-Pabayo that sealed the deal for Petron.
Heady setter Rhea Dimaculangan also did her part for the Blaze Sikers with 40 excellent sets, most of them setting up Stalzer and American reinforcement Hillary Hurley, while adding a pair of kills.
The 6-foot-3 Drpa made a good account of herself in her league debut as she teamed up with compatriot Sara Klisura in reenergizing the potent attack of the Asset Managers, who wiped out an 8-10 deficit by scoring four straight points.
The Blaze Spikers, however, refused to crumble under duress and showed their own championship poise, with Hurley scoring a kill and Stalzer adding another pair to retake the lead at 13-12.
An expected counterattack from Klisura knotted things up at 13-apiece, but Stalzer made sure the Blaze Spikers will surpass the tough test given by the Asset Managers in dramatic fashion.
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