Stephanie Niemer’s chances of winning the Most Valuable Player award is improving every game as she continues to power Petron to an impressive performance in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix.
Her numbers are eye-popping.
After delivering a conference-high 38 points against an ultra elite team like Foton two weeks ago, the high-flying Kentucky native put on a show as she dropped nine aces against the defense of another super power in F2 Logistics.
In her previous game, she torched Cignal with 11 kills, three aces and one block in a three-set display of power, skills, volleyball brilliance and wizardry.
No doubt, her name is way up there whenever conversations shift to who is the best player in the league today. But for Niemer, being mentioned as frontrunner in MVP derby is neither appealing nor flattering.
The MVP crown is not her priority. She wants to bring home something more important, something that her entire team would enjoy.
She wants to win the title. And that’s why she’s doing everything to accomplish it.
Few weeks before the start of the Grand Prix last October, volleyball rumor mill was overflowing with speculations that one of the PSL teams will be parading an import who has a service and floor defense that are as deadly as that of Bojana Todorovic, power that could match that of Kristy Jaeckel and leadership that is comparable to Erica Adachi and Alaina Bergsma.
Insiders said the import is a veteran international campaigner who campaigned with Puerto Rico’s Olympic team captain Lynda Morales in one of the tourneys in Puerto Rico. She also saw action in Azerbaijan league, one of the world’s most competitive and richest leagues in terms of salary.
The import is reportedly so good, so powerful that even the league was lusting over the possibility of bringing her over to help the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila campaign in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.
A few days later, an unimpeachable source identified the team as Petron and the import as Stephanie Niemer of University of Cincinnati. And true enough, all the speculations were accurate: Niemer is a super import who is capable of turning a team heavily depleted with the departure of its stars into a challenger.
A Petron insider said Niemer is the best thing that happened to Petron this conference.
[quote]She is an ultimate pro who can adjust well with the locals. If you look at our lineup, we’re not as powerful as Foton or F2 Logistics, but with Niemer around, the locals can all focus on supporting her and playing defense. She is also a leader who has a clear and realistic roadmap of her goal and how to get there.[/quote]
Niemer said her mission is to give Petron another Grand Prix title – not to win an MVP award.
[quote]We expected that. It’s never something I look to achieve. My number one goal is to be in the championship and win it. That’s my number one priority. Winning the championship is all I care about.[/quote]
Petron is already holding the leadership with an 8-1 win-loss slate entering their crucial match against Foton, a battle that would determine who will own the top spot in the semifinals.
[quote]We worked hard to get into this point and we wanted to be in this position. We’re pretty happy to be where we are right now.[/quote]
Foton is the lone team that scored a victory over Petron.
Niemer said their rematch is going to be a dogfight as the victor would go on to gain a high morale in the semifinals, which erupts on Dec. 3 at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City.
[quote]We have one more game left before the semis starts. It’s really an important game to us. We really want to maintain our lead in the league so we will do our best to win it.[/quote]
So it’s time to throw all the MVP speculations and other personal accolades out of the window.
It doesn’t appeal Niemer anymore. All she wants is to finish the tournament with a shiny golden crown on Petron’s head.