Whispering Palms now has another chance to win the championship it missed last year after claiming the first finals berth in junior varsity division of the 2012-2013 Coalition of Private Schools Sports Association Volleyball League.
The Terns, who bowed to Grace Christian Academy in last season's finale, 27-29, 16-25, earned a return trip to the finals after sweeping Saipan International School A in the semifinals, 25-19, 25-9, yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. Whispering Palms will face the winner of the Mt. Carmel School-Saipan Community School pairing in the winner-take-all finale on Monday. The Knights and Tsunamis dueled for the second and last finals seat yesterday afternoon and results of their semis tiff were unavailable at press time.
Whispering Palms came into yesterday's first semis match the heavy favorites after holding an impressive unbeaten record (14-0) in the regular season and lived up to expectations with a two-set victory over the fourth-ranked SIS (9-5).
After showing poise in the first set with a 6-point win, the Emily Young-coached squad dominated the second half of the second set. The SIS Geckos threatened a comeback early in the second set, 4-6, behind the hits of Alex Park and Emily Jones, but was stucked to 6 points, while Whispering Palms' Maile Aldrich made several aces and Steven Lee scored a couple of spikes to widen the gap, 17-6.
The Geckos sued for time, but gained only one point after the quick break, while Colin Ramsey stepped up at the service area and also scored several aces. SIS made one final push for a comeback when it earned two straight points off Whispering Palms errors, 9-22, before Negahr Rastguiy closed the game for the Terns.
Rastguiy's overhand service was too much to handle for SIS, as the first two serves touched three Geckos players, but failed to be returned Whispering Palms' court. Up at 24-9, Rastguiy went for her third service and this time an SIS player from the backcourt was too slow to react and failed to receive the ball.
Young, in a brief interview with Saipan Tribune after their semis win yesterday, said her team has to keep its aggressiveness and intensity to win Monday's finale. She added that her players should intimidate their foes with those consistent serves to have a good chance of winning the championship.
“Whether we play Mt. Carmel or Saipan Community, we have to focus on our game and make those serves,” Young said.
Whispering Palms's undefeated squad has a 13-player roster. Also on the team are Guineverre Borja, Rachel Kwon, Moris Villanueva, Gideon Borja, Suah Cho, Olivia Hirsh, Caitlin Tinney, Alisa Tsatsral, and Troy Young.