The long wait is finally over.
The first few games of the Chooks to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix lived up to its hype, bannering nine teams with the finest and the most impressive sets of imports.
Petron and Foton showed their championship form by beating Generika and Cignal in a dominating fashion respectively.
And whilst a few games played per team is hardly enough to tell who the MVP frontrunners are at this point, this will focus more on the individual talents who played spectacularly this week:
10. Gretchel Soltones
The 3 – time NCAA MVP volleybelle was all over the stat sheet powering the rookie team Iriga Lady Oragons to its first win. The former San Sebastian star hammered 15 attack points bolstered with 8 excellent receptions and 6 excellent digs to the delight of coach Parley Tupaz. Having three imports beefing up their line up and with a gem in Soltones, the Lady Oragons will give some teams a run for their money.
9. Kath Arado
The 5’4’’ UE standout has constantly wowed spectators with her prolific performances sweeping the floor and providing the Generika Lifesavers an airtight defense in the backcourt. As small as she is, she can absorb hard spikes from foreign imports like a pro proving there’s good reason why she had secured the UAAP 77’s Rookie of the Year award despite her team’s winless campaign.
The national team mainstay Santiago continues to show why she is one of the much-sought volleybelle in the local scene. Against Cignal HD Spikers, the opposite spiker provided the team with 19 points, having 12 on attacks, 4 kill blocks, and 3 service aces.
It’s just their first game of the conference but Jaja’s performance loudly resonates that she can go toe to toe with imports as an early MVP candidate.
7. Sara Klisura
Foton import Sara Klisura introduced herself to the Filipino fans with a roaring entrance, scoring 26 points in their opening-game day win over Cignal, 25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22. The Serbian open spiker built her offense on 22 attacks on top of seven digs.
Against Cocolife she dragged Foton off the rug on her way to securing the MVP of match. Observers were delighted and at the same time thrilled to see the full potential of this Serbian open spiker as she is so crafty with her spikes yet at the same time can break solid blockers in front of her.
Will she be the key that will lead the Foton Tornadoes to its third championship?
6. Tamara Kmezic
The Serbian outside hitter starred in the Oragon’s maiden game against the depleted Sta Lucia Realtors lineup in a five set thriller. Tami punched 28 points with 26 attacks, on a 37.14% efficiency.
Although she has yet to adjust to the Asian way of volleyball as she is accustomed to high sets with taller blockers in front of her; her ability and smartness were evident on her debut performances. When she can fast track her adjustment with her team, this 6’6’’ beast will surely fissure every blocker that may stop her scoring prowess.
5. Mar-jana Phillips
One of the positive outlooks for Sta. Lucia Realtors, despite the two consecutive losses, is the performances of Fil-American Mar-Jana Phillips.
Phillips, Sta. Lucia’s prized find from NCAA Division III school Juniata College, continued to provide scoring options for the Lady Realtors as she contributed against Iriga with 26 points, coming from 21 attacks, 3 blocks and 2 aces and also contributed 13 points against the sorry loss to Petron.
Just when you thought that she has already reached her peak as an impressive outside hitter, the Fil-Am volleybelle then dishes a performance that screams: “No, not yet. Not even close.”
Generika-Ayala has been hot and cold this week. They got their first win against the rebuilding Cocolife Asset Managers before bowing down to the stronger teams Petron and Cignal. But if there was a constant highlight during this week’s crazy ride for the Lifesavers, it was definitely the performances of Pilepic.
She, along with her fellow import Darlene Ramdin kept the Lifesavers campaign beating, pounding on the opponents defense. Unfortunately, it was in vain as everything the team couldn’t compete against the powerhouse teams, who crushed the life out of their hopes.
In order for them to win, the Croatian hammer cannot do it alone. And she shouldn’t have to.
3. Bodhana Anisova
The 26-year-old Ukranian spiker had to travel a nerve-wracking 26 hours to get to the Philippines but the jet lag wasn’t apparent during her debut performance for Sta. Lucia Realtors against Petron. She showed that the wait is worth it as she carried the team during a four-set sorry loss. She looks like a great defender as she helped Moncks on the defensive side lacing 4 digs and 14 excellent receptions to her belt.
As long she gets to the warm weather of the Philippines and adjusted to the system of Coach Jerry Yee, Anisova will surely be on everyone’s radar.
If there is one import who fully knows the Filipino way of playing volleyball, it would be Stalzer. She bannered the national team multiple times and provided Foton the offensive option to bag multiple finals appearances and a back to back championships. However, the 2016 Grand Prix MVP suddenly made an unexpected move when she left Foton for their rival, Petron.
The Lady Blazers seemed to pump diesel into their engine against their match with powerhouse Cignal as they surrendered the first set, but then Lindsay took control punishing the defense of the HD Spikers with her spikes and services in the next three sets.
Stalzer’s & fellow import, Hurley’s performance prove that they have already fused into a two-headed monster that, as early as it is, should be feared to by the entire conference #FeartheGas.
Explosive – one word that can fully describe Hurley’s performance making her our best player for this week
Introducing herself to the local scene, the American open spiker powered Petron with her killer spikes and blocks that spelled despair to their opponents. Against Generika, she hammered 15 attacks on 51.72% attack percentage, making Rhea’s job a lot easier.
Hurley can unleash atrocious spikes hammering every balls ground and breaking every blocker along her way. She can also drop bombs whether on the wings, in the middle or even in the back-row.
Brace yourself as for their next games, #Hurleycane will surely try to devastate every team that may hinder the Lady Blazer’s way to crown.