With the PSL Grand Prix 2019 on the final stretch of the tournament, the imports are now the vocal piece of the remaining teams aspiration of getting the Grand Prix championship. As such, let us take a look at the imports who have performed well in the latter part of the preliminaries and quarterfinals of the tournament in this edition of the PSL First Six.
6. Grace Lazard (PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters)
The former Iowa State middle blocker is proving to be the main weapon upfront for the Power Hitters. With the court smarts of the local support of the Roger Gorayeb-mentored squad, Lazard’s blocking and quick plays have been important most especially in their quarterfinal series against the Generika Ayala Lifesavers. In their first game against the Lifesavers, Lazard scored 15 points, seven on blocks, proving to be the defensive wall that the Lifesavers were afraid to go up against. The following game, Lazard finished with 25 points, seven on blocks, as they ended the tournament lives of the Lifesavers. This proves that Lazard will be the X-factor in the semifinals series against a tough F2 Logistics squad.
5. Lindsay Stalzer (F2 Logistics Cargo Movers)
The former PSL Grand is now on playoff mode. As such she proved it with an MVP-like performance in their quarterfinals series against the rising Foton Tornadoes. In their five-set game one loss to the Tornadoes, the former Bradley University spiker scored 24 points, 23 on attacks. And during their do-or-die match against Foton, the two-time PSL champion showed that she will not go down easily without a fight as they disposed the Tornadoes in four-sets and finished with 26 points, 22 on attacks and three on blocks. Such numbers and experience will be a big help most especially in the upcoming series against a young and up coming PLDT squad.
4. Erica Wilson (Cignal HD Spikers)
The former Arizona State spiker is the barometer of where the HD Spikers will move in the tournament and it showed in their quarterfinal series against United Volleyball Club. The current PSL leading scorer continued her scoring tear as she finished with 25 points, 21 on attacks, in their four-set win against UVC. The American Reinforcement of Coach Edgar Barroga will now try to get Wilson to score more most especially that they will be up against an undefeated defending champions in Petron. But with a great local support and a perfect tandem in Anastasiya Artemeva, we may see the HD Spikers get an upset against Petron, and Wilson will be the yardstick of how the HD Spikers will go in the semis.
3. Stephanie Niemer (Petron Blaze Spikers)
The former University of Cincinnati open spiker has taken a backseat to end the preliminaries and in the quarterfinals. When you look at the numbers, this is not the Stephanie Niemer everyone knew. She scored 16 points in their straight-sets dumping of the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors. Those may be nice numbers but it is not the 20 point scoring fans are used to. But knowing how Petron is running, just like a race car they take things slow but everyone should look out in the semifinals. With a powerful jump serve and a powerful spike upfront, then Niemer will be a dangerous weapon in the semifinals against Cignal.
2. Katherine Bell (Petron Blaze Spikers)
The former University of Texas spiker continues to produce MVP-like numbers. In their quarterfinals match against the Lady Realtors, Bell top scored 19 points, 16 on attacks, thus showing that she is ready for the most exciting challenge of bringing another title to Petron. As everyone know, Petron will just zoom through the competition and Bell will be the leader of that rally and Cignal will be the first toughest for the back-to-back. But with a strong line-up such as Petron, we can see Bell continue to be the barometer of this match up against Wilson and the HD Spikers.
1. Kendra Dahlke (PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters)
There is a new queen in town! The former University of Arizona is now on playoff mode for the Power Hitters. In their quarterfinals loss against the sixth seed Generika Ayala Lifesavers, Dahlke scored 23 points, 20 on attacks. With their backs against the wall, Dahlke proved to PLDT head coach Roger Gorayeb that he made the right decision in signing Dahlke as she led the Power Hitters to a five-set win against the Lifesavers. Dahlke scored a season-high 37 points, 33 on attacks and four on blocks. Such numbers will be important as they will be up against an injury-plagued but championship experience squad in F2 Logistics and if she continues with these numbers, then I see Dahlke being an import to watch for in the semifinals.