Lady Knights ground Lady Eagles

A Mt. Carmel School player goes for a spike during an earlier game against Saipan International School 2 in the CCOPSA high school volleyball league at the SIS court in As Lito. MCS faced GCA last Tuesday and won in three sets. (Roby N. Pamintuan)

Mt. Carmel School’s high school girls varsity team stormed Grace Christian Academy’s home turf and topped the back-and-forth game in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association High School Volleyball League last Tuesday.

The Lady Knights went the distance against GCA and outlasted their opponents in three sets, as the former played steadier in the homestretch, 25-19, 18-25, 15-12. Facing a 4-8 deficit in the deciding third set and getting rattled by GCA’s comeback bid, Mt. Carmel managed to settle down later and launched its own rally to grab the lead and steal the close win.

Earlier in the opening set, the Lady Knights were firmly in control, capitalizing on a depleted GCA crew. The Lady Eagles were without Jasmine Phan and starting setter Clerisse Dacumos and they faltered with their communication, as they clearly missed their key players. With a short-handed lineup, GCA also could not withstand Mt. Carmel’s dynamic offensive plays in the first set. Teeon Camacho and Cheska Bucalig made key plays on both ends of the floor to clip the Lady Eagles in the first set.

“We didn’t communicate well during the first set, and we knew we had to improve on that,” Sunny Woo said. With Phan, GCA’s captain and starting spiker, away for a vacation, Woo did her best to fill in the latter’s shoes. “Since [Phan] wasn’t here, and I’m the oldest player on the team, I thought that I should be the one encouraging the team and giving them tips.”

After dropping the first set, Eagles coach Cesar Libut urged their players to put more effort on communicating with each other and up the ante on the defensive end. The Lady Eagles did what they were instructed to and effectively countered Mt. Carmel’s first set win to extend the game. GCA’s Anna Nunez and Karina Dilse fired off several serves that found their marks and their much-improved communication and defensive efforts were noticeable during the second-set recovery. Joyce Francisco, who took majority of Phan’s usual share of minutes, also stepped up on the defensive end to push her team over the hump.

With the game in the balance, the Lady Eagles glided the wave of momentum from their second set victory into the final frame, reaching the 8-4 tally with relative ease.

However, MCS coach Shawn Davis rallied the Lady Knights together and encouraged them to remain faithful to three fundamental volleyball concepts.

“I remember our coach saying these three things: relax and take a deep breath, communicate, and make good passes,” MCS captain Louisa Han said. “She kept us in a positive mindset.”

The Lady Knights heeded to their coach’s advice and eventually overtook the Eagles to head into the holiday break in high spirits.

As for the Lady Eagles, they are going into the holiday break with an extra motivation after absorbing the tough loss.

“We feel like having this break will be a good chance for us to improve and correct whatever mistakes we made during the Mt. Carmel game,” Woo said.

Meanwhile, the other matches in the girls division last Tuesday were rescheduled due to miscommunication. Initially, Saipan International School 2 was set to host Mt. Carmel JV team, while SIS 1 was slated to meet Agape Christian School, also at the Lady Geckos court in As Lito. However, at the time when league officials created the schedule, they were not aware of SIS’ early holiday break.

Matches in the high school league will resume on Jan. 14 with Agape Christian School hosting GCA girls and boys teams and MCS varsity and junior varsity teams squaring off at their Chalan Kanoa court. An all-SIS affair (1 and 2 girls division) will also take place at the resumption of the league.

Roby N. Pamintuan Author

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