The Grace Christian Academy Lady Eagles soundly defeated Saipan International School Lady Green Geckos in two sets, 25-15, 25-17, to cap off nearly a perfect season as the Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization 2013 girls volleyball finale tournament concluded last Saturday at the Marinas High School Gymnasium.
The champion squad consists of Aira Batallones, Danica Canedo, Crystal Cristobal, Zena Demapan, Michelle Faller, Alexa Go, Jody Kim, Julie Muna, Jazmin Rayphand, Jaden Reyes, Mulan Ta, and Michi Tenorio under coach Jen Douglas.
The Lady Eagles are a very young group made up of only three seniors-Batallones, Cristobal, and Tenorio-and junior Muna, so expect them to be back next year as a strong early favorite.
GCA dropped just one game in the regular season, to MHS Lady Blue Dolphins, but redeemed itself in the postseason with the sweep over 10 other squads as both the Rota High School Lady Bucks and Tinian High School Lady Stallions were added into the mix.
They earned a first round bye on the first day of competition last Friday and advanced past the Lady Stormz of Marianas Baptist Academy, 25-13, 25-15, and MHS Blue, 25-15, 25-14.
Then the following day GCA downed the eventual runner-up SIS Green, 25-19, 26-24, and then waited around for a couple of hours to see who it would face in the finals.
The downtime did not affect the Lady Eagles' performance at all as they controlled both final sets with multiple bump and set combinations from all angles of the net.
In addition to a healthy dose of kills manufactured by great communication and spacing, GCA also better minimized committing unforced errors than the other groups by keeping most of their shots in bounds and avoiding calls for obstructing the net on defense.
GCA jumped out to a 9-2 run in the opening final set, and forced SIS Green to take a timeout moments later when leading, 12-4.
The latter managed to trim its deficit to a handful on a few occasions, but GCA showed its ability to close and had its rivals on the run from the start of what turned out to be the final face-off.
They glided in front, 4-0, from the get-go and maintained control of the match all the way to the end, averaging close to a 5- or 6-point leads for the majority of the set.
Though it came up short, a second place finish still gives SIS Green a firm foundation to build on, much like its Lady White Gecko counterparts, who settled for third place this year in front of the Mount Carmel Lady Knights in what was a very close match, 25-15, 22-25, 17-15.
SIS White won five out of seven matches and though it never ran into the Lady Eagles were ousted by its sister squad SIS Green, 25-18, 25-13.
SIS Green earned a first round bye as the No. 2 seed and advanced past SIS White, 25-17, 25-16, and MCS, 25-14, 25-23, before getting dumped by GCA for the first time in the upper bracket semifinal.
Other competing schools included MHS Lady Yellow Dolphins, Kagman High School Lady Ayuyus, and Saipan Southern High School Lady Manta Rays.