Stalzer braces for return

Monday, 18 Dec 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

Lindsay Stalzer – arguably the queen of all foreign players in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) – is all set to return for another tour of duty.

At the sidelines of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) opening ceremonies where she served as muse of Petron’s sister team San Miguel Beer over the weekend, Stalzer expressed her willingness to return next year for another round of action.

Stalzer is the gold standard among Superliga imports.

She landed in Manila in 2014 as a charming young lady from Bradley University who was eager to make a career in a fledgling semi-professional league.

She suited up for Cignal, but luck was not on her side as a beauty queen from Oregon in Alaina Bergsma and fan-favorite from Brazil in Erica Adachi took the league by storm when they powered Petron to the Grand Prix title.

The following year, she returned – this time for Foton.

The Tornadoes were in dire need to turn things around after finishing at the bottom of the heap in the previous Grand Prix.

A team insider said the Tornadoes recruited Stalzer not just because of her power and maturity but also because of her familiarity with the Filipino brand of volleyball.

Stalzer teamed up with an American middle blocker in Katie Messing to win the Grand Prix title over Petron, which was bannered by Brazilians Adachi and Rupia Inck, to earn a ticket to the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship that will be held in the country the following year.

Unlucky

True enough, Stalzer was again re-employed by Foton and was paired with another power-hitter in Ariel Usher in the Asian tourney and the Grand Prix.

But luck was simply not on her side.

Barely a week after arriving in Manila, Stalzer suffered a back injury, reducing her into a mere benchwarmer in the Asian club. She tried to play through the pain, but her performance dip, leaving the Tornadoes with a seventh-place finish in the prestigious tourney.

She also saw action in the prestigious FIVB Women’s Club World Championship together with six imports and seven local players.

Stalzer, however, bounced back and spearheaded the Tornadoes to another Grand Prix title over Stephanie Niemer, Serena Warner and the rest of the Blaze Spikers.

This year, however, was a different story.

Serbian coach Moro Branislav of Foton opted to tap a three Eastern European stars in Sara Klisura, Dragana Perunicnic and Katarina Vukamanovic, leaving Stalzer very much available.

Petron grabbed the golden opportunity to tap her services and paired her with another hard-hitter in Hillary Hurley to form a two-headed scoring dragon.

But winning the title wasn’t meant to be.

The Blaze Spikers ran into a well-prepared F2 Logistics squad to surrender the Grand Prix crown in a thrilling, dramatic best-of-three finals showdown.

Stalzer’s job is not yet done.

There’s still enough gas left in her tank.

And she’s tipped to return for her fifth year of battle – the longest ever among Superliga imports.

Strong showing

Overall, the Blaze Spikers were satisfied with how they performed in the recent Grand Prix.

Despite dropping a match to F2 Logistics in the eliminations, they managed to storm back and make it all the way to the finals.

“We had a really strong showing all season.”

“In the regular season we had that one loss to F2 and I think it’s a fluke because we could have won that match. And then we had some ups and downs in the playoffs, but we still made it to the finals.”

“I thought we had the championship but we let it slip away.”

With that, the Blaze Spikers are looking forward to bring her back for another tour of duty.

“I believe so.”

“We talked with Petron a little bit and I think they are just putting together a contract and we’ll see.”

“I think the plan is to come back for the Grand Prix.”

Stalzer first arrived in Manila in 2014 when the league was still in its formative years.

Now that a lot of things had changed, a lot of powerful imports had arrived, Stalzer is still here ready to play her hearts out to chase another crown.

The queen of Superliga imports is all set to continue her reign.