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COUGARS MAKE COMEBACK WIN

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By Bucky Brennan

Academy’s Labera Linn tips past GW’s Tisha-Renee Aguigui defends on the play. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Sitting atop the Gadao division of the IIAAG 2012 Girls Volleyball league on Tuesday morning were the Academy Cougars. After facing their longtime volleyball rivals Tuesday night, the Cougars now near the playoffs for this year’s volleyball season with sole possession of first place after avenging an early season loss and defeating the GW Geckos in a three set thriller, going: 25-21, 18-25, 25-21.

The Cougars stole a back-and-forth first set after shedding some early jitters. Senior setter Stephanie Bordallo was sharing the love as every Cougar got involved on offense. Bordallo said “In the first, we were nervous, but we wanted redemption because they beat us [in our other meeting].”

After winning the first, the entire gym was booming as both teams’ fans were doing all their voices could to encourage their respective teams to take the second.

The Geckos proved that they too were ready to play and after dropping the first set, Zea Nauta reminded the Cougars that they were in Geckos territory with a quick ace to go up 1-0. The teams traded serving errors before Academy’s Dani Sherwin smashed a kill in the mid court to tie the game at two. Ladera Linn then pummeled a kill and Allie Umagat served two straight aces to put Academy up 5-2. But GW was not to be outdone and Maricia Mariano slotted a kill of her own as GW was able to string together several points to tie the game at 5-all. The teams traded points on errors and Linn recorded a couple aces to make the score 10-9 in favor of the Geckos. But then Nauta smashed a kill off the net and the momentum went in Geckos favor as they gathered several morel points to take a dominating lead at 14-9. From there, the Cougars tried several times to bridge the gap, but the Geckos never let them get going and eventually closed out the set 25-18 behind strong play from Geanna Leon Guerrero, Mariano and Nauta.

Academy’s Labera Linn and Reianna Mendiola attempt to pick up a serve-receive pass against the tough serving of the Geckos. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

After the second, both teams looked drained as they battled it out for every point. The Cougars offense was firing on all cylinders while the Geckos’ Nauta, Mariano and Leon Guerrero seemed unstoppable. Bordallo said after the game “I see who’s hitting well and I gotta go to them,” and Tuesday night in the third, all the Cougars were threatening options as Reianna Mendiola, Isabel Flores, Linn, Sherwin and Gemilie Ilao all recorded clutch kills.

The set started off with the Geckos going to their mainstays of Nauta and Mariano to put the pressure on the Cougars. Eventually with strong play and Cougar errors, the Geckos went up 12-6. But the Cougars were not out of the game yet. They proved that they too can turn up the heat and they went on a run of their own capped by Ilao’s weak-side, cross-court kill that was driven to space. After the run, the scoreline read 12-10 before the teams traded points again until the score read 16-12 after a GW carry and Academy double-hit. From there, the Cougars took over. Academy rung out a 10-point-run where Bordallo went to Linn for three kills and Umagat notched another ace.

Stephanie Bordallo, AOLG setter.

After the game, Bordallo said “I see who’s hitting and let them swing, Ladera was hot.”

In fact, Linn was on fire as she notched six klls for the Cougars in the third set alone!

After taking a commanding lead at 21-17 courtesy of the ten-point run, the Geckos tried to get the game back in grasp, but the Cougars closed the set behind strong defense and offensive play including Mendiola and Ilao’s booming kills that silenced all hope for the Geckos and ended the game at 25-21.

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