GCA finishes strong; MHS 1, Mt. Carmel 2 gain advantage
Grace Christian Academy won its remaining games in the preliminary round of the 2020-2021 Public School System Interscholastic 4v4 Beach Volleyball League to join Marianas High School 1 and Mt. Carmel School 1 and 2 in the Top 4 rankings in the boys division.
The Eagles swept their final five games in the prelims last Saturday at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan sand courts to end up with an 8-1 record and place second in the team standings. GCA’s lone loss in the prelims was against the No. 1 seed MCS 1 (9-0) during the opening week of the competition.
After the defeat, GCA’s William Kim, Steven Balakrishna, Ryan Daproza, Anthony Deleon Guerrero, Christian Pamintuan, and Akira Ora downed MHS 3, 21-13; Saipan International School 2, 21-5; Agape Christian School 2, 21-12; MHS 1, 21-17; and MCS 2, 21-15 to gain one of the Top 4 spots heading into next week’s playoffs.
The Eagles, MCS 1, MHS 1 (6-3), and MCS 2 (6-3) will get a bye in the first round of the double-elimination playoffs, leaving the No. 5 to No. 12 teams to compete in the Feb. 26 matches. Tinian and Rota were automatically ranked No. 5 and 6, respectively, as they did not play in the prelims, while SIS 2 (5-4) is at No. 7 and is followed by Agape 1 (4-5), SIS 1 (3-6), MHS 2 (2-7), Agape 2 (2-7), and MHS 3 (1-8). The winners in the battle of lower seeded teams will move to the second round and challenge the Top 4 squads.
Girls division playoffs today
Meanwhile, the girls division playoff round will begin this afternoon.
Matches won’t start until 5:30pm, as PSS will first hold the parade of teams at 5pm. The 12 squads are asked to be at the venue by 4:45pm. After the parade, Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association, which is helping PSS run the competition, will hold a brief ceremony at 5:15pm to honor its outgoing board members.
At 5:30pm, four teams will be on the sand courts to start the playoff matches. Mt. Carmel 1 will meet SIS 2, while the other game will be an all-Dolphins affair with MHS 2 squaring off against MHS 3.
The playoff matches will continue tomorrow with the finals tentatively set for 12pm and it will follow a best-of-three sets format with the first two sets a race-to-21 game, while the last and deciding (if needed) will be race to 15.
MHS 1, GCA 1 and 2, and SIS 1 are the early favorites going into this weekend’s playoffs, as they finished in the Top 4 in the preliminary round. MHS 1 was undefeated and had a 9-0 record, while GCA 2 earned an 8-2 mark, and SIS 1 and GCA 1 posted 7-2 and 6-3 slates, respectively.