White Chocolate's Wilton Laniyo and Clay McCullough-Stearns and Chen-Knohl's Charnessa Lizama and Knohlynn Gechig won their respective boys and girls divisions of the 7th Annual Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Junior Doubles Tournament held last Saturday and Sunday on the Fiesta Resort & Spa sand courts.
The youth tournament was organized by Northern Mariana Island Volleyball Association.
White Chocolate bested 11 other boys U18 teams, while Chen-Knohl swept 15 girls U18 squads.
White Chocolate earned a first round bye after pool play and was issued the top seed on the bracket.
Laniyo and McCullough-Stearns hit the ground running on Sunday and bumped off Zoners, 21-6; Wolf Gang, 21-14; and then eventual runner-up Goofy Goobers, 21-13, but experienced a hiccup in the finals opening set to the Goofy Goobers, 21-23.
Fortunately for them they had earned a twice-to-beat advantage coming into the finals and saved face in the deciding face off, 15-12.
Goofy Goobers' Misaki Cramer and Andrew Johnson came into the elimination round as the third seed and also earned a first round bye.
They sent down Holy Set, 21-19, and third placers Mini-Max, 21-19, before coming up short in the upper bracket semifinals.
Mini-Max's V.J. Jones and Barry Mality ousted the Zoners, 21-10, and Holy Set, 21-8, to advance to the lower bracket semis, where Goofy Goobers prevailed, 21-17.
In the girls division, Lizama and Gechig went through Bump and Grind via forfeit and eventual third place finisher Magalahi, 21-19, in the opening elimination rounds after a day of pool play matches.
Chen-Knohl then advanced past Sassy, 21-17, into the upper bracket semifinals where they defeated runner-up Murasakis, 21-9, in what was their first meeting.
The girls division featured a Guam versus Guam lower bracket semis battles, where Murasakis' Devon Johnson and Chrisi Iglesias prevailed over Magalahi's Alex McCarroll and Kristin Sapp, 21-17.
In the end, Chen-Knohl could not wait to get back on the court and governed a swift 21-8 finals victory.
It can be recalled that Chen-Knohl's Lizama won the event last year with former partner Toni Yamada.
Both of Murasakis' shortcomings came against the girls champs as they defeated We Know We Can Spike, Spicy Pinoy (21-9), the Sparks (21-19) leading into the upper bracket semis.
Magalahi fared well as well after being bumped down by the local pride in the second and rebounded over Tu Madre, Sheps (21-19), Sparks (21-15), and Spicy Pinoy (21-11) en route to the lower bracket semis.
The Top 3 place finishers were presented with medals and all participants received free T-shirts upon registration.
During breaks, the nine visiting professional volleyball players from the U.S., Canada, and Japan played in some exhibition matches and mingled in with the crowd for autograph signings and photo opportunities.
The pros include four-time Marianas Beach Volleyball Cup men's champions Daisuke Matsumoto and Junki Hatabe of Japan who are back and looking for their fifth straight title.
Their female colleagues, former women's champions Megumi Murikami and Miyuki Matsumura also made the trip as well as veteran pro Shinako Tanaka and newcomers Saku Fujii and Angela Ishida.
From the U.S. came California's Will Montgomery, Try Borne, and Jenn Snyder along with Jaclyne Jallos of British Columbia, Canada.
The players have become friends through competing on the AVP tour in the states and the JVB tour in Japan.
Borne and Montgomery caught wind of the event from fellow pro Paul Baxter who appeared in last year's episode.
Jallos lives in San Diego and is close friends with Snyder who is making her fifth Marianas Cup appearance in six years; they met during a volleyball vacation at the Turks and Caicos.
All of the players, especially those returning are excited to be competing in Guam, but the majority of the group is actually more familiar with Saipan than the neighboring island.
During their stay the athletes held a youth beach volleyball clinic for students and also observed NMIVA's Sunset Beach Volleyball Coed tourney finals at Fiesta last Wednesday and Friday.
The Japanese players have been undergoing training sessions as well, but some got a chance to check out historical sites like Banzai Cliff and visited the American Memorial Museum.
The West Coast players indulged in some fun in the sun and went diving, four-wheeling, and hiking.
The first-timers all expressed gratitude to the good hospitality they received and complimented the natural beauty of the island. They also acknowledged interest in coming back in the future.
The Junior Cup and Sunset events are part of the Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival, which is Micronesia's longest running beach volleyball event.
NMIVA would like to thank supporters Fiesta Resort & Spa, United Airlines, Fédération Internationale De Volleyball (FIVB), Mikasa, Asian Volleyball Confederation, Practical Solutions, Inc., Docomo Pacific, and the Marinas Visitors Authority.