There has never been a force in the PSL quite like Stephanie Niemer.
The experienced American import nearly carried the Petron Tri-Activ Spikers to the 2016 Grand Prix championship, putting up 30-point performances on a nearly game-to-game basis. Her power was unmatched, and her signature jump serve caused problems even for the best serve receivers in the country.
But her magnificence wasn’t enough to calm the perfect storm that is the Foton Tornadoes in the Finals. In a series that ended with Petron being swept, Niemer scored 30 points in both games but found scarce offensive help from any of her local teammates.
The Cincinnati native couldn’t help but feel disappointed, especially with how they had lost Game One, in which they had held a 2-0 set lead and an 8-3 advantage in the decider.
“It’s very disappointing. I think our team gave our 100 percent, our absolute heart in Game One. I think in the fifth set we let outside forces affect us. We struggled getting past that. We think we deserved that Game One but there’s nothing we can do about it now,” Niemer said after the curtain fell on the PSL season.
Although the stats show that her teammates might have over-relied on her, Niemer is still proud of her teammates’ effort.
“I think everybody played their role as best they could. That’s all we needed. But it’s tough playing against Foton. They have four or five players that can score and are all tall. We were a bit shorter and the odds were stacked against us. I’m proud of my team. I can’t blame anyone for what happened.”
With another tournament over, Niemer is heading back to America to spend the holidays with her family before playing in Puerto Rico in January.
Although she admitted that she is already thinking of retiring, the Grand Prix’s First Best Open Hitter didn’t close the doors on a possible return to the PSL.
Aside from playing for Foton, Niemer also proudly represented the Philippines and the PSL in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship last October.
“It was a good experience. I really liked my team. The people here in the Philippines, everybody’s here so sweet. It’s a nice change of pace to be around such great people everywhere I go.
“Anything’s possible. I’m kind of winding down on my career. I don’t want to do anything super long unless it’s right. The door is definitely open for that but we’ll see,” she said.
Every season, the PSL never fails to bring an import that instantly captures the Pinoy fans’ hearts; from Erica Adachi to Bo Todorovic, and even to Lindsay Stalzer. But there was never a player who had almost single-handedly brought her team to the Finals.
More than the fans or the country’s sunny shores, unfinished business will most likely bring Niemer back to the Philippines.