Tough task awaits American import Lindsey Vander Weide when she suits up for Petro Gazz in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference.
Vander Weide, a University of Oregon product, has big shoes to fill as the Angels are focused on their title defense in the import-flavored conference of the country’s lone professional women’s volleyball league which fires off on 8 October.
Vander Weide, however, embraces the challenge in her fourth international pro stint and first in Asia.
“Definitely, I think there is a huge expectation on me. I’m excited to play that role. I love being the top scorer on the team. I love to be the person people rely on,” Vander Weide told Daily Tribune during the Angels’ practice session at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan over the weekend.
“That’s something I like to be on a team. I’m excited about it.”
Vander Weide arrived in the country more than a week ago and is slowly adjusting to the team’s system and style of play.
“So far it’s been good. I’ve only been here for a week. I’ve been adjusting to the team really well. The girls are great, they make it easy on me. I’m really excited to be able to play with them in games,” she said.
Petro Gazz tapped the 6-foot-3 outside hitter to beef up its roster as the Angels try to duplicate their successful run in the tournament back in 2019 behind Cuban Wilma Salas and American Janissa Johnson.
The duo shocked the favored Creamline Cool Smashers in an epic championship series that went the full three games back when the league was still in the amateur ranks.
PVL canceled the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and did not stage the Reinforced Conference last year.
The Angels were not able to book Salas, who signed a contract to play in Europe, for a return stint while Johnson is just making a comeback after a bout with colon cancer with the Spanish club CD Heidelberg Volkswagen.
This time, it is Vander Weide’s turn to keep the crown on Petro Gazz’s head.
“I’m excited for a competitive season for sure,” the 24-year-old winger said.
“All the imports are great so I know it’s gonna be a competitive league so I’m excited to compete with everyone.”
Vander Weide last suited up for AEK Athens in Greece. She also saw action in Hungary and France following a fruitful collegiate stint for the Ducks in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association.
With a competitive batch of imports coming in for the nine-team tournament, Vander Weide’s performance will play a huge role in the Angels’ campaign.
“Her contributions will be a huge factor and at the same time, the locals should also play their part,” said Petro Gazz assistant coach Arnold Laniog of the Best Outside Hitter in the Pac-12 Conference and the Hungarian league.
Vander Weide is going up against a slew of new and familiar reinforcements.
American Lindsay Stalzer returns as import of F2 Logistics, PLDT will have Russian Elina Savkina-Samoilenko, American Tai Bierria is suiting up for Cignal, newcomer Akari has Dominican Republic national team veteran Prisilla Rivera, UAI-Army is backed by Canadian spiker Laura Condotta, Creamline is banking on Turkish Yeliz Basa while Choco Mucho is bannered by Uzbek-Azerbaijani outside hitter Odina Aliyeva.
Only Chery Tiggo has yet to name its import.
“I know a couple of the players like Lindsay Stalzer, of course, she’s going to be really good, and a couple of other players too,” Vander Weide said.
“So, I’m excited to play with some familiar faces and girls that I know are really powerful.”
Vander Weide will join a solid Petro Gazz squad powered by veterans Myla Pablo, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, MJ Phillips, Remy Palma and Gretchel Soltones.