IMPORTS Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer lived above the hype, powering Petron to an easy 25-13, 25-17, 25-19 shellacking of Generika-Ayala in the opening salvo of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Vaunted as the best tandem of imports this year, Stalzer and Hurley sparked a blistering run in the second set before going for the kill in the third to tow the Blaze Spikers to a roaring start in this tourney bankrolled by Cignal, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller, Grand Sport, Rebisco, Island Rose, Cloudfone, UCPB Gen and Asics.
Hurley, a well-traveled international campaigner, starred with 15 kills for a total of 18 points while Stalzer, who won two crowns with Foton and was named Most Valuable Player in 2015, remains deadly as ever as she finished with 14 points.
Backing up the American reinforcements were middle blockers Ria Meneses and Mika Reyes, who finished with three blocks apiece for Petron.
Petron finished the job in just 75 minutes.
“Sobrang happy kasi lahat nag-deliver,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, downplaying the notion that they are the biggest threat to Foton’s bid of winning three straight Grand Prix crown.
“Honestly, madami pa din kaming inaayos, madami pa din kaming kailangan i-improve. But the good thing is kung sino man ang ipasok namin – be it imports or local players – talagang nagde-deliver. So okay sila. I’m happy with our performance today.”
True enough, the Stalzer-Hurley tandem was rock-solid on the attack zone in the first match of this season-ending conference that also has ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
With the Lifesavers knotting the count at 13 in the second set, Stalzer and Hurley took turns in piercing the defense with booming smashes from the wing and backline spots to spearhead the Blaze Spikers to a 21-15 lead.
Fiola Ceballos connected on a hit from the open spot to stop the bleeding for Generika-Ayala, but Stalzer and Hurley delivered a pair of quick hits before Sisi Rondina joined the fray and tallied the set point, 24-17.
The Lifesavers showed signs of life in the third set with Pilepic and Ramdin at the helm.
But the Blaze Spikers turned a 13-all deadlock into 16-22 lead, thanks to the heroics of Hurley at the firing end and the solid blocking of Meneses en route to the victory.
Katarina Pilepic of Croatia tallied 14 points while Darlene Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago finished with nine markers to lead the Lifesavers, who will try to bounce back when they face Cocolife this Tuesday also at the same venue.