PSL: Bell powers Petron past Cocolife

Published April 24, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

by Jerome Lagunzad

Game Tomorrow (The Arena, San Juan City)
4:15 p.m. — F2 Logistics vs Foton
7 p.m. — Petron vs Cocolife

Katherine Bell of Petron vs Marta Drpa of Cocolife
Katherine Bell of Petron vs Marta Drpa of Cocolife
Touted American import Katherine Bell made a resounding debut last night, powering Petron to a 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Cocolife to move on the verge of claiming a return ticket to the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix finals at The Arena in San Juan City.

Proving she as good as advertised, the 6-foot-1 Bell fired at will on the offensive end with 27 attacks and added a pair of blocks for 29 big points as the No. 2 Blaze Spikers gained the headstart over the No. 3 Asset Managers in their best-of-three semifinals series.

Former tourney Most Valuable Player winner Lindsay Stalzer also proved impressive with 23 points, built around 19 kills, two aces, and two blocks, while Mika Reyes and Frances Molina combined for 17 points for Petron, which can close out Cocolife with another victory tomorrow.

“What happened to us in the finals (last year) was a lesson learned,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, who is looking to bring his team back to the finals after falling prey to F2 Logistics last year. “We don’t want it to happen. Despite this win, we will still work hard and polish our lapses in our game.”

The Blaze Spikers sure exceeded their own expectations despite having little time to integrate Bell to their proven system as a replacement to veteran Hillary Hurley, who has yet to recover from a nagging injury.

“She just arrived last week and has been with us for only nine days. We’re so lucky that the schedule was adjusted so we had time to adjust. Anyway, it wasn’t a major adjustment. She’s very jolly and easy to get along.”

After taking the opening set with relative ease, the Blaze Spikers found themselves in trouble as Serbians Sara Klisura and Marta Drpa rallied the Asset Managers to a 21-17 lead in the second set.

Petron knotted the count at 21-apiece before Klisura connected on a booming kill followed by an ace from Jane Gonzales to give Cocolife on the verge of knotting the match at 1-1.

“We were relaxed in the second set,” Delos Santos said. “Good thing we managed to recover in the third set. We will study all our lapses in the second set and improve it next game, especially our passing and reception.”

Drpa tallied 26 points while Klisura chipped in 18 markers for Cocolife, which is looking to make it to the finals for the first time since joining the league last year.