#NotToday: Stalzer, Perez lead F2’s valiant stand for the PSL throne

 F2 Logistics finally accomplished what the rest of the field has tried and failed to achieve as it handed erstwhile unbeaten Petron its first loss of the season.

The Cargo Movers essayed a hard-fought 25-20, 16-25, 25-23, 25-23 victory to end the Blaze Spikers’ 17-game reign during the intense Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix 2019.

This came after the defending champs swept Ramil de Jesus and his wards during their head-to-head preliminary couple.

With the win, the de Jesus-mentored spikers are now a game away from pulling off what could be the biggest upset in PSL history and hoisting the import-flavored conference trophy.

The ladies in yellow will try to seal the deal on Game 2 tomorrow 7 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Here are the few key takeaways in yesterday’s match:

THE HEART OF STALZER

At this point, no one can question Lindsay Stalzer’s skills, leadership, and heart.

The 34-year old American spiker played clutch as F2 Logistics squandered 19-12 lead and allowed Petron to equalize at 23 in the third set. Stalzer then came through with back-to-back set-clinching hits to save her squad from collapse.

In the fourth, the two-time reigning MVP provided the big punches as she towed the Cargo Movers down the final stretch of the fourth before MJ Perez did a superb finishing push for the win.

Stalzer’s night was highlighted with 20 attacks and a block for 21 points laced with 17 digs. But more than her numbers, it was her veteran savvy that really made the difference for her team.

She was swinging, she was talking, she was smiling – and everyone knows what happens when Stalzer is feeling it.

X-FACTOR: PEREZ

Opting a familiar, reliable import has proven to be a stroke of genius for F2 Logistics. Coming in late as a replacement for Becky Perry, MJ Perez was the decisive factor during her first clash with Petron this season.

The 31-year old former Olympian from Venezuela was the surprise the Blaze Spikers never expected. As she does not have the hops of Stalzer nor the sheer power of the Petron imports, Perez played smart volleyball as she often hit long whilst using the opponents’ blocks to her advantage.

In fact, two of the last three points from the 2017 MVP were off-the-block attacks while her final blow was a shot to Petron’s empty zone 5.

Perez amassed team-high 24 tallies off 23 attacks and a block while complimenting Dawn Macandili’s 13 excellent receptions with her own 11.

LOCAL SUPPORT MISSING FOR PETRON

It wasn’t altogether a bad game for Petron.

In fact, the Blaze Spikers had a slim advantage in attacks (61-57) while edging the Cargo Movers in service (8-3). They even had more digs (73-71) and excellent receptions (39-36).

But while the hard-hitting Kath Bell and Stephanie Niemer came up with 30 and 20, respectively, the locals of the Shaq delos Santos-backed squad only managed a combined 23-point effort.

The output was atypical for Petron, who entered the championship series with only three dropped sets out of 54 sets played.

Still, the Blaze Spikers could instead look at the brighter side of the situation as they still have the chance to cop their sixth PSL title despite their dreams of a tournament sweep coming to an end.

(Image from Facebook/Philippine Superliga)

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