Lindsay Stalzer dug deep from her well of experience as she delivered the crucial blows to lift Petron to a 25-14, 23-25, 15-25, 25-14, 15-13 victory over Cocolife in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Stalzer shattered the 13-all deadlock with back-to-back hits in the deciding set en route to this impressive win in the penultimate day of classifications of this tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Petron shut down the classification round with a 9-1 win-loss mark and captured a handsome chance of regaining the top spot of this prestigious women’s club league that also has Mikasa, Asics, Senoh, LGR and Grand Sport as technical partners.
The Blaze Spikers, however, have to wait for the result of another crucial battle between erstwhile leader F2 Logistics and Foton.
The Cargo Movers and the Tornadoes are still playing at press time.
“We’re not concern if we end up no. 1 or no. 2,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, noting that they have to be at their best either against eighth seed Smart or seventh seed Generika-Ayala in the quarterfinals where they will be coming in with a twice-to-beat advantage.
“We can’t be complacent, especially with what happened in our last game (against Sta. Lucia). It was a lesson learned and we would carry that as we go along (in our journey).”
Stalzer, the former Most Valuable Player who is in her fourth year of duty, delivered 21 kills for 22 points while Hillary Hurley chipped in 13 attacks to finish with 15 points for the Blaze Spikers, who spoiled the debut of FIVB World Grand Prix veteran Marta Drpa for Cocolife.
Also shining for the Blaze Spikers were Mika Reyes and Frances Molina as well as Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, the former University of Santo Tomas veteran who made her presence felt in the crucial stretch.
Reyes had three blocks and two aces to finish with 13 points while Molina and Maizo-Pontillas added 12 and five points, respectively.
But Delos Santos stressed that it was Stalzer’s veteran presence that helped them capture the win.
Powered by the Serbian tandem of Drpa and Sara Klisura, the Asset Managers threatened to pull off a massive upset as they erected a 2-1 set lead.
Petron restored order in the fourth set, setting the stage for the deciding set where Delos Santos instructed setter Rhea Dimaculangan to give Stalzer a lot of open looks so she would heat up and unleash her might in the crucial stretch.
With Cocolife tying the count at 13, Stalzer unloaded a sharp kill from the open spot for the set point followed by another kill for the win in the match that lasted for a little more than two hours.
“I told our setter to set up Lindsay because that’s (fifth set) where she’s good at,” Delos Santos said. “I know how she fights. She’s a real fighter. So I’m happy with the outcome.”
Klisura finished with 23 hits while Drpa added 20 for the Asset Managers, who closed their classification round assignment with six wins in 10 outings.