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DOLPHINS SHOCK KNIGHTS

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By Bucky Brennan

Southern’s Tianna Sakaba gets a hit past St. John’s blocker Rayanne Piana. (photo by Andre Gadia)

The second place, Gadao Division St. John’s Knights held the home-court advantage against the third place Taga Division Southern High Dolphins in their quarterfinal matchup Friday night.

After a three set thriller, the Dolphins emerged the victors and with the upset, advance to the 2012 semifinals going 26-24, 18-25, 25-17 for the night.

Southern Senior Paige Surber said after the game, “I’m speechless, my team has a lot of heart and we show it.”

Led by Surber, the Dolphins showed their “heart” all night as both St. Johns and Southern fans were treated to long rallies and intense volleyball action as the teams were eager to advance to the next round in the single elimination playoffs.

Paige Surber

The first set saw a sea-saw battle as the Knights and Dolphins went point-for-point. Intense rallies and momentum shifts were the trend as neither team pulled away for too long. After fighting for every point, Surber and the Dolphins eventually closed the set 26-24.

The second set was much the same as neither team was letting up with the season on the line. Strong plays from Destiny Castro and Devin Johnson for the Knights stifled several attempts by Surber and the Dolphins to close out the pull-away and close the match. Midway through with the score at 16-all, St. Johns Chrisi Iglesias served two aces and Castro hammered a thundering kill of a quick set to put the Knights up 19-16. From there, the Knights got a streak going and stifled the scrappy Dolphin offense. Castro had another kill, while Adriana Chang contributed two kills of her own. With the score at 23-18 for the Knights after the run, Johnson swatted a kill off the net to get to set-point. Then, Castro showed her great reflexes and defensive mind as she blocked a trick-set attempt by Southern’s setter to close the set 25-18 and tie the game at 1-set all.

Going into the third, the Knights and Dolphins regrouped with their coaches to make some last minute adjustments.

Tianna Sakaba, who took the helm for the Dolphins in the third said, “We had to keep a positive attitude and pick each other up. We wanted to win.”

Destiny Castro uses her quick swing and jump to earn the kill before Lorraina Sanchez can put up the block. (photo by Andre Gadia)

From the get-go, the Dolphins looked like they would succumb to the second set victory momentum held by the Knights. At 6-3 for the Knights, Castro smashed another quick-set kill and Chang served an ace to go up 8-3. Southern called a timeout though and St. Johns recorded three straight errors as the Dolphins scrappy defense would not let anything drop. The teams traded points again until Sakaba’s tip found open space behind the St. John’s block. A few points later, Sakaba put a huge block on Castro’s roll-spike attempt that seemed to deflate St. Johns’ fledging momentum. From there, St. Johns errors coupled Southern’s unflinching defense paced the rest of the way for the Dolphins. Surber’s three kills and a tip led Southern to their set and match victory with a final score of 25-17.

In other games:

The JFK Islanders shocked the top-ranked Academy Cougars at Academy 25-20, 22-25, 25-20. The Cougars had only one loss in the regular season (15-1) and were sporting four players in the First Team All-Island list. JFK snuck into the playoffs in fourth place of the Taga Division barely over .500 at 8-7.

The GW Geckos held on to eliminate the Okkodo Bulldogs 25-13, 13-25, 25-19 and the Sanchez Sharks downed the Guam High Panthers 26-24, 25-16.

The four winners advance to the semifinals on Tuesday. Okkodo will be the site of both the semifinals and the finals on Friday.

TUESDAY SEMIFINALS

5:30 p.m. GW vs. Sanchez

7 p.m. Southern vs. JFK

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