For the third straight season, Grace Christian Academy and Saipan International School will dispute the varsity championship in the Coalition of Private Schools Sports Association Volleyball League.
The Eagles and Geckos arranged their title duel after sweeping separate foes in the semifinal round of the varsity competition yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. In the first semis game, GCA ousted Mt. Carmel School, 25-15, 25-14, while SIS Blue also had a two-set win (final scores were unavailable) against Marianas Baptist Academy in the second semis pairing. The Eagles-Geckos' finale is set for today at 4pm with the former hoping to defend the championship they won against the latter last season. The defending champion survived SIS in a three-set title match last year, 26-24, 24-26, 15-8. The Geckos recorded a similar three-set victory over the Eagles in the finals of the 2010-2011 season, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12.
If SIS wants to avenge its loss to GCA today, the Geckos must find a way to neutralize James Libut, who delivered the killer blows in the Eagles' sweep of the MCS Knights yesterday.
Libut gave GCA a lot of points off his booming kills. In the first set, he teamed up with brother Jonathan and Genesis Manglona in manning the Eagles frontline. Manglona made a couple of kills, too, while Jonathan set up his brother well for those powerful kills. The rest of GCA players were steady in receiving the ball and committed lesser errors on returns and serves to move within a set of earning a return trip to the finals.
In the second set, Mt. Carmel got off to a good start when it led, 3-0. However, the moment Libut got into his rhythm and found allies in Jun Kitagawa and Kemner Sugue, the Knights paid the price for not putting enough defenders at the net to stop GCA's attack.
GCA and SIS' victories yesterday were their first in the playoffs, as they both earned byes in the first round after placing in the Top 2 in the double-round robin regular season. The Eagles were undefeated in 10 games, while the Geckos held an 8-2 record, absorbing both defeats at the hands of GCA.
The Geckos had two other teams entered in the field, but SIS Green and White bowed to Mt. Carmel and MBA, respectively, in the first round of the playoffs last Wednesday.