While Super Typhoon Yutu has interrupted Grace Christian Academy’s momentum, it was not able to douse the Eagles’ burning desire to complete a three-peat.
GCA 1 will be battling Agape Christian School 1 in the winner-take-all finale of the middle school division of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Volleyball League next week with the Eagles aiming to pick up where they left off in the long-delayed title match. The GCA 1-Agape 1 championship showdown was originally scheduled for Oct. 23, but was suspended as the CNMI prepared for Yutu and the finals remained on hold for more than a month with the islands focusing on recovery efforts. No definite date and venue have been set for the title game, but it will take place between Dec. 10 and 14, according to league organizers.
After Yutu struck Saipan and Tinian, the Eagles stopped training for weeks and just resumed practice last Dec. 4. Head coach Cesar Libut said his squad is noticeably rusty after an extended break from volleyball activities and is not quite yet in championship form. He also noted that they are having a hard time scheduling practices because of conflicts with their boys and girls varsity squads training sessions and GCA’s shortened and fluctuating class schedule. Despite the hurdles that GCA 1 is facing, Libut is optimistic on their chances of winning their third straight middle school title.
GCA 1 team captain Katriel Saures is also sticking to the positives, saying they are looking forward to next week’s championship game and approaching the match with the mindset of a champion.
“The typhoon definitely interrupted our practices, but we will try to pick up where we left off. We can only commit to doing our best and that’s what we will do,” Saures said.
Both Saures and Libut have played big roles in GCA’s success in the middle school competition in the last three years with the latter helping the team achieve unbeaten records for two seasons and hopefully three, and the former stepping up to the challenge in all her stints with the Eagles.
“In my first year (6th grade), it was challenging because I was still learning how to play volleyball at a high level of competition,” Saures said. “During my 7th grade year, I was able to sharpen and learn more skills. With the help of my coach, the coaching staff, and my teammates, I was able to improve.”
When asked about keys to the success of the Eagles’ middle school volleyball program, Saures was quick to acknowledge several figures that contributed to GCA’s repeated triumphs.
“Our coach required a lot of practice time which I think is key for us to sharpen our skills and play together as a team. Another key is the support we’ve been receiving from our teammates, the high school volleyball teams, the GCA family, and our families and friends,” Saures said. “The biggest key [to our success] is our Creator who gave us all the abilities we have.”