The three-year drought for Whispering Palms is over.
Whispering Palms finally hoisted the junior varsity championship trophy in the Coalition of Private School Sports Association Volleyball League after dominating Saipan Community School in the finals, 25-9, 25-13, yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The champion team is composed of Negahr Rastguiy, Steven Lee, Colin Ramsey, Maile Aldrich, Guineverre Borja, Rachel Kwon, Moris Villanueva, Gideon Borja, Suah Cho, Olivia Hirsh, Caitlin Tinney, Alisa Tsatsral, and Troy Young. Emily Young is Whispering Palms coach.
“It's a great feeling to finally win the championship. I have been coaching the team for the past two years and I felt that our squad really wanted to get the crown this season after we fell short last year, losing to GCA in the finals. These kids have been together for some time, practicing and playing other sports so their teamwork and camaraderie are what brought us to the championship,” Young said.
The Whispering Palms coach also credited their victory to the team's consistency and focus.
“Right at the very beginning of the finals our players were aggressive and they never gave SCS the chance to heat up. SCS may have the advantage in height, but our players made up for that with their quickness and athleticism,” Young added.
The finals win over SCS kept Whispering Palms' perfect season. The newly crowned champion won all 14 games in the regular season and defeated Saipan International School A in the semifinals last Friday before downing SCS yesterday. SCS made it to the finals after defeating Mt. Carmel School in the other semis pairing last weekend.
“Everything came together for us this season. Our players' skills improved a lot and they played their hearts out in every game,” said Young. “It's nice that we were able to take the JV championship this season after winning it in the 2008-2009 season.
Whispering Palms' 2008-2009 title victory was recorded against the favored GCA Eagles. Mark McDonald coached the squad to a thrilling three-set win over the Eagles, 25-12, 12-25, 16-14. Then in the next three seasons, Whispering Palms managed to made it to playoffs only to lose in the semis twice (2009-2010 and 2010-2011) and in the finals last year. In the 2009-2010 competition, Whispering Palms fell to GCA in three sets. In the next season, the Terns had another heart-breaking three-set defeat at the hands of eventual champion SCS.
Last year, Whispering Palms survived the semis, topping Marianas Baptist Academy in two sets, only to falter against GCA in the finals, 27-29, 16-25.
Wounded, but definitely not broken, Whispering Palms came out on a mission this season and ruled the competition in style with its sweep.
“It is a good way to end the season undefeated. The championship is also a great send-off gift for our players who are moving up high school next year,” Young said.