Agape 1 wins thriller; playoffs start today

An Agape Christian School player serves during their first round meeting with Grace Christian Academy 2 in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Volleyball League at the Agape court in Middle Road. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Agape Christian School 1 edged Grace Christian Academy 2 in three thrilling sets, 23-25, 29-27, 15-8, during their game in the middle school division of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Volleyball League yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

With the victory, Agape 1 finished the regular season with an 11-3 record for second place in the standings. Grace Christian Academy 1 was ranked first and will be seeded first in the playoff round, which will begin today at the Ada Gym. GCA 2 (8-6), Mt. Carmel School (7-7), Saipan International School (7-7), Saipan Community School (5-9), Agape 2 (2-12), and Seventh Day Adventists completed the standings. Mt. Carmel won the tiebreak for fourth place against SIS, 74-73 (points scored in head-to-head), while SDA also prevailed in the standoff versus Agape 2, 100-41.

Today’s playoff round will have four games with GCA 1 taking on Agape 2; Agape 1 battling SDA; MCS colliding with SIS; and GCA 3 facing SCS.

The Torchbearers and Eagles face-off was a make-up game and was tightly contested throughout all three sets, as the opposing teams exchanged leads.

ACS 1 built a 23-12 advantage in the first set behind the firepower of David Zheng.

Zheng was unstoppable in the first set, as he spotted a glitch in the Eagles’ defense and capitalized by dropping several unexpected tips out of the reach of GCA’s frontline defense. Following Zheng’s precisely placed tips, Bobby Bao took over and hit seven consecutive overhand serves, leaving the Eagles’ defense scrambling in an effort to halt the Torchbearers’ onslaught.

Facing a double-digit deficit, the Eagles managed to find their footing behind starting setter, T.J. Saures. Saures caught fire and carried his squad to a come-from-behind victory with 13 consecutive overhand serves.

After the tough opener, the second set of the ACS 1 and GCA 2 drew the spectators’ attention and riveted them from start to finish. The Torchbearers’ trio of Zheng, Bobby Bao, and Eric Chen smothered the Eagles with a gamut of offensive plays. Zheng and Bao’s synergy was in full display, as they set each other up for plays that drew cheers from the crowd.

GCA 2’s Vicky Wang and Alayna Howard hustled on defense, while their teammates Anthony Camacho and Kimy Clyde Kim delivered on multiple serves, but their efforts in the second set still fell short.

With the second set deadlocked at 25-25, GCA 2’s players committed two violations, with one player stepping on the line during a serve and the other unintentionally making illegal contact with the net. The Torchbearers capitalized on these mistakes to claim the second set and send the match to a deciding third.

After its morale-boosting second set win, Agape 1 kept its foot on the pedal in the last to zoom past the Eagles. Chen and Bao singed the Eagles with powerful spikes and serves, giving Agape 1 the No. 2 seed and capping their regular season run on a high note.

Meanwhile, in other make-up games, GCA 1 swept Mt. Carmel, 25-17, 25-15, Agape 2 upset, 25-12, 17-25, 15-13, and SIS won against SDA (via default).

Roby N. Pamintuan Author

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