Grace Christian Academy 1 has locked on to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the NMIVA-PSS Interscholastic Girls High School Volleyball League 2021-2022 season after beating fellow erstwhile undefeated team Marianas High School 1 last Thursday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
The Lady Eagles 1 didn’t waste time in their conquest of the Lady Dolphins 1, sweeping the very team breathing down their becks in the team standings. The first set was a nip-and-tuck affair before GCA 1 managed to eke out a 25-19 win.
In the second set, MHS 1 seemed determined to force a rubber set and led early. However, GCA 1 managed to weather the storm and gradually put some distance between themselves and their rivals.
Then it was GCA 1 setter and team leader Katriel Saures’ turn to serve. The six-time champion of various high school volleyball leagues put down the hammer and literally carried the whole team behind her back, as MHS 1 didn’t have an answer to her service game.
The Lady Eagles 1 seemingly scored 7-8 points behind Saures’ superb service game and knocked down the set and game point when the Lady Dolphins 1 failed anew to return her service as they went on to emerge victorious in the battle of unbeatens, 25-16, in the second set.
GCA 1 head coach Cesar Libut jokingly said they didn’t want to prolong the game anymore that’s why they ended the game in two sets.
“We wanted to win without complications anymore and we just wanted to secure the No. 1 seed in the playoffs that starts on Friday,” he said.
Libut added that Saures has been their best weapon all throughout the season because with her at center, GCA 1 always controls the ball on offense as everyone always bumps the ball to her after receiving it.
In neutralizing MHS 1’s center’s powerful spikes, Libut revealed that they specifically asked a male volleyball players to practice with them so his players would get accustomed to stopping powerful spikes.
“We prepared for their spiker. We scouted them very well. She’s their only offense. We asked for the help of a men’s volleyball player who is a strong spiker and we just practiced receiving his hard spikes,” he said.
Aside from the brilliant Suares, who has been part of the Lady Eagles’ varsity squad since sixth grade, the rest of the GCA 1 roster includes Karina Dilse, Clerrise Dacumos, Hye Jin Elliott, Soleil Lamar, Vicky Wang, Mint Karsuaythong, Eunice Pagaduan, and Allyssa Omampo.
With the win against MHS 1, Saures and company raised their record to 11-0, while exacting the Lady Dolphins 1 their first loss in nine games.
Other games Thursday saw, Mt. Carmel School 3 improve to 6-5 after narrowly beating sister team MCS 2, 25-20, 27-25, 15-13. The loss dropped MCS 2 to 2-7.
MCS 1 also was victorious after beating Kagman High School, 25-17, 25-15. The win raised its record to 8-3, while KHS fell to 2-7. MHS 3 also hiked its record to 4-7 following an easy 25-19, 25-13 victory over winless Saipan Southern High School, who is now at 0-9.
SSHS 2’s sister team, SSHS 1, faired a little better after edging Saipan International School 2, 25-14, 26-24, 17-15. SSHS 1 is now at 3-6, while SIS 2 is now at 2-8. The final game of the day then saw MCS 1 pull out a 26-24, 25-17 victory over GCA 2 to improve to 8-3, while the latter dropped to a .500 win-loss record at 5-5.
Pool play concludes tomorrow with a rare eight-game schedule. MCS 3 and KHS and MHS 1 and MCS 2 will see action in the 4:30pm first games. The 5:30pm second games will then feature GCA 1 vs MHS 3 and SSHS 2 vs MHS 2. The penultimate sets of games at 6:15pm will have SSHS 1 taking on SIS 1 and MCS 2 squaring off against SSHS 2. The 7pm matchups will then GCA 2 testing the mettle of KHS and MHS 2 duking it out with sister team MHS 1.