Third time’s the charm for Mt. Carmel School, as it finally won a championship after beating Saipan International School in the boys high school finale of the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Volleyball League last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Knights, who settled for runner-up honors in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, made sure the title won’t slip away from their hands this year as they took only two sets to down the Geckos in the championship game, 25-10, 25-18.
The Francis San Nicolas-coached Mt. Carmel eased its way to victory in the opening set, as the Knights won the battle on the net, drew several points from Seok Jun Yun’s powerful serves and booming spikes, and capitalized on SIS’ errors.
The Knights opened a 17-7 lead in the first set after Eric Kiser blocked a spike from the Geckos. With her team falling behind, SIS coach Mili Saiki called timeout and that somehow stopped the bleeding for the Geckos, as Mt. Carmel had a wide serve, awarding a point to its opponent.
However, the Knights quickly retaliated with Jayden Tenorio converting off his spike to spark a short 6-1 scoring run, which the MCS senior also ended with a block off A.J. Hudkins’ kill. Hudkins then made up for a botched attempt when he went for another kill and this time, it landed on an empty spot on the Knights side.
Still, the Knights led by a big margin, 23-10, and Yun moved their squad closer to victory in the opening set when he went for a thunderous spike, which SIS defenders failed to contain. Mt. Carmel then closed out the first set when Kiser served and the Geckos failed to hold after three touches.
With SIS in danger of losing its title bid anew, the top-ranked squad played better in the second set, standing toe-to-toe with the Mt. Carmel in the opening stages of that period and behind by only one, 10-11, after scoring two straight points off a drop at the frontline and the Knights’ wayward spike.
However, Mt. Carmel prevailed in the next exchange, 12-7, with the lanky Yu teaming up with Tenorio and Kiser in handing the Knights the points and SIS committing costly turnovers. Yu scored the last point for the Knights for their 23-18 lead and Mt. Carmel went on to finish off SIS and secure the division title after the Geckos’ back-to-back errors. The first one came from Sanchez, who attempted to toss the ball, but the leather slipped away from his hands and dropped on the floor. The second and final one that sealed the doom for SIS was from Hyun Jun Chung, who went for a soft tap, but was deflected by the net.
It was a sorry loss for SIS, as it earlier bowed to Grace Christian Academy in the girls high school finale.
On the other hand, the win against the Geckos was sweet revenge for the Knights, who lost to SIS in the title game in the 2015-2016 season. The Knights also had a runner-up finish last year as they were stunned by Marianas Baptist Academy in the finals.