Grace Christian Academy repeated as champion after beating Saipan International School 1 in the finals of the 2019-2020 Public School System Interscholastic Girls High School Volleyball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
The Lady Eagles prevailed in the title rematch against the Lady Geckos after taking only two sets to close out the finale, 25-20, 25-8. GCA also needed only two sets to top SIS in last season’s championship game, 25-21, 25-16.
The No. 1 seed GCA, which was undefeated in 10 games in the regular season, earned a return trip to the finals after downing Saipan Southern High School in the semis. The Lady Geckos, who were ranked second going into the single-elimination playoffs last weekend after posting a 9-2 mark in the preliminaries, topped MHS 2 to advance to the championship match.
In the one-game finals, SIS 1 put up a strong fight in the first set before a determined GCA crew gained cushion in the second to cruise to victory and secure the sweep. The Eagles were motivated to get the job done, as they want to dedicate their win to Hyejin Elliot, who failed to play in the title match due to a knee injury she sustained during a school activity.
According to GCA coach Cesar Libut, their players really wanted to step up after losing one of the Eagles’ best spikers.
“After losing our best spiker for the last two games, it’s amazing to see that the team really stepped up. They knew that their teammate is injured and they said ‘we are going to dedicate this to her,’” Libut said.
Libut said it was rewarding to watch his students give their heart for the game and because they played with passion, the result was fruitful.
When asked what training was like for the girls, Libut said it was really about enforcing discipline.
“The students and the players are well dedicated, they come on time, and they work hard. This is a product of working hard,” he said.
Sunny Woo, Kimi Dilse, Anna Nunez, Clerisse Dacumos, Miku Kimura, Katriel Saures, Alayna Howard, Mint Karsuaythong, Soleil Lamar, Irene Lee, Susana Villagomez, Vicky Wang, and Elliot made up the GCA roster.
Saures is among the few rookies on the champion squad and she was honored to be part of the starting six in the finals in her freshman year.
“It meant a lot since I’m a freshman. I was one of the first six because that’s rare for that to happen. I’ve still got a lot more to learn. I want to thank our coach and all the coaching staff who helped us out and especially my team for supporting and playing hard, fighting for the win,” Saures said.