2019 PSL Grand Prix Preliminaries Recap
1st Game (Feb 28): Petron def. Sta. Lucia in straight sets (25-8, 25-8, 25-18)
2nd Game (March 28): Petron def. Sta.Lucia in straight sets (25-21, 25-12, 25-20)
The defending PSL Grand Prix champions Petron Blaze Spikers have swept the preliminaries and are now on the longest winning streak in PSL History at fifteen games. With a line-up composed of perennial PSL MVP’s Stephanie Niemer and Katherine Bell, national team standouts Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Denden Lazaro, this squad is unstoppable from top to bottom.
Their match-up in the playoffs with the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors, who has not won in the 2nd round, will be the first challenge in the Blaze Spikers’ quest to be the second squad to win back-to-back PSL Grand Prix titles. The Babes Castillo-mentored squad may have finished last, but the desire to win and maybe gain an upset will be their motivation to win.
Casey Schoenlein vs Katherine Bell
Reading through the nunbers, Bell has the advantage in scoring with 19.1 points per game while Schoenlein is averaging 14.8. The former Washington State standout needs a lot of help from the locals for them to at least give the Blaze Spikers a dogfight.
Do the Lady Realtors have a shot?
Sta. Lucia has to match Petron’s chemistry and power all the way if they want to score an upset. That’s easier said than done though because the Blaze Spikers are great at forcing teams to commit errors.
If they are not strong in the service line, their spiking core can make opponents pay. They are equally impressive on defense as well especially with Lazaro and Reyes on tow.
Sta. Lucia must dig deep in their offense and constantly fool the Petron blockers with a variety of attacks. They can’t ride the coattails of Schoenlein, Pamela Lastimosa, Amanda Villanueva, and Rachel Austero alone. It would take an undivided focus from all of them to put a dent on Petron’s campaign.
Who needs to step up for the Lady Realtors?
They may not be 100 percent but MJ Phillips and Jhoana Maraguinot must bring their A-game to give Sta. Lucia a glimmer of hope. They have proven before that they can deliver on offense. It’s a matter of finding their mojo again.
Prediction for Petron-Sta. Lucia
It would be hard to bet against a team that lost only one set in the entire tournament so far. No PSL team has solved the Petron mystery and it will remain like that against. Sta. Lucia. The Blaze Spikers will win in straight sets.