In 2015, Petron gunned for a back-to-back Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix title.
Brimming with confidence after its 2014 win and fresh from writing a historic All Filipino Conference sweep, both against Ramil de Jesus’ squads, the then Tri-Activ Spikers were more than capable of dominating the import-laden conference.
Led by triumvirate of Dindin Santiago, Rachel Ann Daquis and Aby Maraňo, and reinforced by setter Erica Adachi and wing spiker Rupia Inck from Brazil, Petron’s tank was full enough to achieve the feat.
But in a stunning twist of fate, it was not meant to happen.
The Tornadoes, headed by Lindsay Stalzer, Ariel Usher, and Jaja Santiago, worked their way and completed an empathic Cinderella run to spoil Petron’s dream after ousting the star-studded lineup of the Tri-Activ Spikers in the three-part Finals series.
Foton soon achieved what Petron tried and failed to do so as they won the 2015 and 2016 iterations of the Grand Prix.
As for Petron, they settled for three consecutive bridesmaid finishes with Foton’s resurgence and F2 Logistics’ rise before finally reclaiming the import-laden conference throne last year.
Four years later, it was the same story for Petron when they march to the upcoming PSL Grand Prix 2019.
Presently the winningest franchise in the tourney, the six-time PSL champions are also coming off an All Filipino Conference victory and are looking to defend their Grand Prix crown en route to two-peat.
Just like before, the Blaze Spikers are parading a stacked local lineup with former and current national team players Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Denden Lazaro, and Rhea Dimaculangan in their fold.
Adding extra local firepower for the Shaq delos Santos-backed squad are Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma, Chloe Cortez, Ann Esguerra, Angelica Legacion, Pia Gaiser and Mela Tunay.
Petron re-acquired American ace hitters Stephanie Niemer and Katherine Bell, who are returning for their second tour of duty.
Forming a high-powered import tandem, Niemer and Bell will carry the offensive load using their potent skill sets in the Blaze Spikers’ campaign.
Just like before, Petron seems ripe to finally realize its goal from four years ago. But like a well-written script, a rather big roadblock threatens to halt their run.
Stalzer, who crushed them for the gold medal twice, and de Jesus, the architect to their 2017 defeat, are joining forces this time. Posing as the largest threat, de Jesus and Stalzer will be F2 Logistics’ key pieces when they try to stop Petron from going back-to-back.
Will Petron emerge as two-peat champions this time around, or will it just be a repeat of history?
The Blaze Spikers open its title defense bid against Smart on February 17.
(Photo courtesy of Philippine Superliga Facebook page)