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Stephanie Niemer takes over as Petron earns back-to-back Grand Prix crowns


Petron completed the most dominant campaign in the seven-year history of the Philippine Superliga by outlasting rival F2 Logistics in Game 3 of the Grand Prix Finals, 26-24, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

This is the Blaze Spikers’ sixth indoor volleyball championship in the league, their third crown in the import-laden conference, and their third cup in the last four conferences.

Moreover, they doubled their number of championships over the Cargo Movers, who were denied their fourth title.

“Sobrang sarap pero siyempre sobrang hirap din. Grabe, yung lahat ng wins namin, pinaghirapan namin yun,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos, who won his fourth championship.

“Binigyan kami ng wake up call ni Lord nung Game One. Tinuruan niya kami maging positive. Lahat ng bagay may purpose,” he added about their sole loss of the conference last Tuesday.

And it was thanks to the efforts of Stephanie Niemer, Kath Bell, and Remy Palma.

Behind Niemer, Petron raced to an 18-14 lead in the fourth set. Palma then kept F2 Logistics in check for a 22-17 cushion.

Niemer was unstoppable all game long, finishing with 31 points on 28 kills, two blocks, and an ace. Bell and Palma added 16 and 14 points respectively.

MJ Perez tried to keep F2 Logistics afloat by Niemer would not be denied her first PSL championship. A kill by the Kentucky-native sent Petron to championship point. To finish off the match, Niemer went for a strong cross-court kill to complete the rout.

Outside of their Game One loss last Tuesday, the Blaze Spikers never let up all conference long, losing just eight sets in the 20 games they played.

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One of those sets was a grueling third stanza in this winner-take-all contest.

Knotted at 21-all, Kath Bell, who had just torched F2 Logistics in the second set, committed back-to-back errors to give F2 Logistics a two-point cushion. Though Shaq Delos Santos was able to waive a Lindsay Stalzer tip because of a razor-thin net touch to cut the lead to just one, the two-time MVP was able to recover with a cross-court kill followed by a trademark Aby Marano runner to seal the set.

“Napakahirap na kalaban yung F2 Logistics at si coach Ramil [De Jesus]. Kailangan talaga paghandaan,” admitted Delos Santos.

Perez held the line for F2 Logistics with 27 markers while Stalzer chipped in 18 points.

The Scores:

Petron 3 – Niemer 31, Bell 16, Palma 14, Reyes 6, Maizo 6, Molina 3, Dimaculangan 2, Legacion 0, Lazaro L, Gaiser L.

F2 Logistics 1 – Perez 27, Stalzer 18, Galang 8, Marano 7, Baron 5, Cabano 0, Gallanero 0, Macandili L.

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