Lady Eagles complete six-peat


Six-time Public School System Girls High School Volleyball League champions Grace Christian Academy Lady Eagles poses for a photo with their trophy and medals after their championship game against Saipan International School last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. Inset, Hye Jin Elliot goes in for a spike after a perfect set from fellow senior Katriel Saures, right. (LEIGH GASES)

The Grace Christian Academy Lady Eagles varsity team is synonymous with volleyball champions as they achieved an unprecedented sixth straight championship by knocking out Saipan International School in the title bout of the Public School System Girls High School Volleyball League 2022-2023 last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. 

Hye Jin Elliot goes in for a spike after a perfect set from fellow senior Katriel Saures, right.

The first set blew by, with the Lady Eagles winning 21-13 and clinched their sixth championship after the Lady Geckos put up a good fight, but crumbled under the weight and sheer force of the Lady Eagles’ flurry of spikes and almost untouchable serves in the second set win of 21-8.

Throughout the game, graduating GCA setter Katriel Saures continuously and perfectly set up the ball for fellow senior Hye Jin Elliot and super freshman Azriel Fatialofa to spike fast and furiously into the opponent’s court with barely any returns from the Lady Geckos. 
The Cesar Libut-coached Lady Eagles came into the playoffs undefeated after winning all seven games of the regular season. 

Throughout the regular season and the postseason, the Lady Eagles were always quick on their feet and deadly with their spikes, which they continued their synchronization in the two-set final match against the overmatched Lady Geckos.

In the double-elimination tournament format, GCA first defeated Kagman High School, then took their first jab at SIS which they defeated as well. The Lady Eagles eventually reached the semifinals against Agape Christian School and shoe-shined their way to the finals to face SIS for the last time. 

ACS won third place after they defeated Mount Carmel School in three sets and lost to GCA in two sets.

Six-time championship coach Libut was filled with mixed emotions after the championship match.

“It’s really sad but we’re so happy because we gave them the last championship. Actually, for those seniors, they have six in a row, because there were two in the JV… they worked so hard.”

About the team collectively, he said “I think you can tell they were undefeated, but this morning, they’re still practicing. They woke up early, and still practiced. It’s hardwork and dedication—they really want it. I’m just telling them and guiding them; it’s their thing and I’m so proud of them. I’m so blessed actually. It’s when you have players like that, they will inspire you to wake up in the morning and be with them…I just want to say thank you also to all the parents…they’ve all sacrificed early in the morning coming here. Without them we won’t be able to do it, so, glory to God,” said Libut. 

His parting words were a foreshadowing of next season, “I hope we’re going to have this [championship] again next year.”

The seniors who were interviewed after the game collectively said they were sad that they are graduating and leaving their team behind, but thankful for the win, their team, and their supporters.

“It’s sad because we’ve been playing so long together—we all started in sixth grade so we’ve made so many memories together,” said Elliot.
“It’s sad but we’re leaving a good team behind,” added Saures.

Vicky Wang thanked their coaches, saying “they work really hard with us every morning for practice and afternoon. They always put us as priority and they always come with us even when it’s raining and they’re always there for us.”

The girls then thanked everyone and said “we are thankful that we have a great team that all support each other and were there for each other no matter what… we thank our supporters and the coordinators who really worked behind the scenes to put this all together.”

Aside from seniors Elliot, Saures, Wang, and Soleil Lamar, the rest of the Lady Eagles roster include Azriel Fatialofa, Allyssa Omampo, Cassie Regan, and Eunice Pagaduan. 

The SIS Geckos had a good and tough run, placing second this year after placing third last year. 

SIS head coach Stacy Eno said “being second place is a big deal. Last year was my first year coaching. I came from off-island and learning the girls, just stepping in was a big thing. So every year we’re just aiming to get one step toward first place…we’re hoping for first next year. But I’m really proud. This season was a hard season. A lot of illness going around, a lot of injuries, a lot of people off-island, so when we pulled together for the tournament, it was really nice to see the results that we did. So I’m very proud of them and they should be proud of themselves.”

The Public School System Girls High School Volleyball League 2022-2023 was held with help from the Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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