Grace Christian Academy’s two teams barged into the semifinal round of the middle school division of the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association after eliminating their respective opponents yesterday at the Eagles court in Navy Hill.
GCA 1 took the first Final Four berth after ousting Saipan Community School, 25-20, 25-10. GCA 1 was ranked second going into the playoffs as it finished the double-round robin regular season with a 10-3 record—the same mark Mt. Carmel School 1 earned, but the Eagles won the tiebreak. SCS, on the other hand, placed No. 7 at the end of the preliminary round after gaining a 3-10 record.
GCA 2 was the top finisher in the regular season with a perfect 13-0 record and arranged a quarterfinal showdown against the last-ranked MCS 2. As expected, the unbeaten squad eased past the Knights, 25-7, 25-12, to notch the second semis berth.
The Caesar Libut-coached GCA 2 was up by only 6 early in the first set, 8-2, before pulling away, 16-3, behind the good spiking skills of Sam Ryu and Steven Balakrishna, who were perfectly set by their teammate Kat Saures. GCA 2 went on to keep its wide margin and ended the opening set when MCS 2 failed to return a serve from Ryu.
In the second set, MCS 2 scored the first point, but it was an all-GCA 2 show after that with Balakrishna, Ryu, and Saures continuing to play steady for the top-ranked squad. Ryu then got the much- needed break late in the game with GCA 2 just a few points away from ousting MCS 2. He was replaced by Sean Gil, whose first two attempts for a spike went wide, but third time was the charm for the multi-sport athlete as his kill gave the Eagles the match point.
With the victory, GCA 2 set up a semis duel against Agape Christian School, which pulled off an upset over last year’s finalist Saipan International School in their playoff game at the Geckos court in As Lito yesterday.
SIS prevailed in the first set, 25-14, but could not get the job done, as Agape recovered in the second, 25-14, and eked out a 15-13 triumph in the deciding third set to steal the win. Agape placed fifth going into the playoffs with its 4-9 record, while SIS was seeded higher at No. 4 after posting a 7-5 mark in the preliminary round.
Meanwhile, the other semis pairing will have MCS 1 battling GCA 1. The Knights advanced to the Final Four following a 25-4, 25-14 domination of Seventh-Day Adventist School over at the MCS Gym in Chalan Kanoa yesterday. SDA was ranked at No. 6 in the single-elimination playoffs after earning a 4-8 mark.
The semis matches will be played tomorrow with the Eagles aiming to arrange an all-GCA finale to keep the division championship in their possession. GCA 1 won the title in the 2016-2017 season after sweeping SIS in the finals, 25-12, 25-7.