Grace Christian Academy and Saipan International School arranged their duel for a pair of championship trophies after dispatching their respective foes in the semifinals of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Volleyball League last Friday.
In the boys division, the top-ranked Eagles overpowered the fourth-seeded Mt. Carmel School in two sets at the GCA court in Navy Hill, 25-13, 25-16, to secure a finals berth. In the other semis game at the SIS court in As Lito, the hosts Geckos also took only two sets to smother Agape Christian School, 25-18, 25-16.
In the girls division, the Lady Eagles soared above the Lady Torchbearers in just two sets, 25-8, 25-10, to advance to the finals, while the Lady Geckos also marched to the finale after surviving MCS’ varsity team in three sets, 16-25, 25-16, 15-8.
GCA capped its dominance of Mt. Carmel in the boys semis game with a bang when William Kim set up Kevin Song for the game-winning spike. Kim and Jason Wang alternated setting duties for the Eagles, with Seung Jun Baek and Joshua Pajarillaga also fed the trio of Song, Steven Balakrishna, and Sam Ryu. The Eagles’ bench depth, their starters’ versatility, and strong frontline hitters made it easier for them to crush their foes not only in last Friday’s semis game, but in the majority of the regular season.
“It is truly a blessing when you have a couple of players giving their best with spiking. They really boost the morale of the whole team and inspire other players to do their part on the defensive end,” Eagles coach Cesar Libut said. “Having multiple setters also allows us to create different offensive plays.”
Before wrapping up the match, Ryu and Song put on a show from the server’s area in the opening and closing stages of the first set to give GCA the upper hand. Ryu bagged six consecutive over-handers to lift the Eagles to an early 7-0 advantage, while Song, with GCA ahead, 21-13, closed out the set by firing four consecutive serves.
The Eagles will meet the Geckos in the one-game finals this Wednesday at 4:30pm at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium and it will be an interesting match, as the former absorbed their lone loss in the regular season against SIS.
“We know that SIS is a very strong team with an excellent coach. They are taller and have strong spikers, too,” Libut said. “I’m sure that it will be one of the most exciting volleyball championships in CCOPSA history. We will give our best and let God do the rest.”
Meanwhile, the girls division finals will be played first at 3:30pm, also at the Ada Gymnasium.