Umangs 1 are No. 1 in grass v-ball
Koblerville Elementary School Umangs 1 are No. 1 after an undefeated campaign in the 2022-2023 Co-ed Elementary Volleyball Championships last Saturday at the Oleai Sports Complex.
The Umangs met Kagman Elementary School in the winner-take-all finals and defeated the Kingfishers, 21-5.
In the beginning, the Kingfishers came into it with a steady momentum—landing 5 points early on. However, once the Umang’s 5th grader and multi-athlete Logan Daniel got a hold of the ball, it was smooth sailing from there as about 10 successive aces to game point etched the Umangs’ names onto the perpetual plaque.
With Daniel on the team are Iku Benavente, Ice Diopulos, Eric Palacios Jr., Tiwsormal Taisakan, Napu Pangelinan, Kaylee Lizama, Reneelynn Aguilto, Zowie Deleon Guerrero, Hanisha Taitano, Sapalyn Apas, and Nnart Siech.
Coach and teacher Francis Mendiola said that all the credit goes to the players. “It was a good tournament. I give the players all the credit for that. Us coaches just prepared them and it was up to them to take it in. If they’re happy, the coaches are happy.”
Mendiola said that Daniel is actually not a volleyball player, but a basketball player who also led the Umangs’ basketball team to a championship in the IT&E Interscholastic Co-ed Elementary School Basketball League 2022-2023 last December.
But with a little pressure from his friends, he joined the volleyball team and from there, learned the basics and helped the team through their undefeated season.
Daniel said that the final game against the Kingfishers was “easy and it’s my first time playing volleyball.” Teammate Napu Pangelinan, who also plays soccer, added that “it feels good to be first place.”
The Umangs were undefeated in the regular season with six wins and brought their streak into the championship tournament.
Their journey to the finals started off with a win against William S. Reyes 1. They then met and won against KES in the quarterfinals, then beat Garapan Elementary School 1 for the upper hand in the final face off against KES later on.
Mendiola said that despite being undefeated throughout the season, their toughest competition was against WSR 1 as they went into overtime against them. He attributed it to the team’s nerves on the first day of the championship tournament which began on Friday, but that they regained their composure long enough to get the W.
Mendiola then thanked Public School System Athletic Program director Nick Gross, “for setting up this wonderful event for the kids to enjoy, parents, teachers, and the community coming here to support the players—it’s a wonderful thing.”
Gross after the finals said, “it was a fantastic season played over four or five weeks that we’ve done Friday nights under the lights… It’s a great future for volleyball in the CNMI. We had a total of 20 teams representing 13 schools from all three islands for a total of 230 students in the 12-and-under range.”
He added, “that’s just a testament of the community getting behind what we’re doing and making sure that our kids have access to these really important sporting programs. I applaud the CNMI for coming out and supporting it. It was a great tournament with Kobler pulling it off undefeated throughout the tournament. Congratulations to them and their coaching staff. I think nobody necessarily saw Kagman coming up and getting second place, so congratulations to the Blue Marlins. Seeing the emotions of sport is a lot of what we do it for. There were so many tears here that you couldn’t tell sometimes if they were happy or if they were defeated, but this is really that social-emotional learning that we speak of in the Public School System. I think this is really a good way to encompass it,” said Gross.