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GECKOS HOLD OFF KNIGHTS

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By Rob Leon Guerrero

Geckos’ Tisha-Renee Aguigui looks calm and focused as she goes up for the spike. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Coming off a loss earlier this week to the Simon Sanchez Sharks, the George Washington Geckos bounced back with a home win against the St. John’s Knights. The Mangilao gym enjoyed heavy crowd support for the home team as they came out on top, beating the Knights 25-15, 25-21 in IIAAG high school girls volleyball action. With the victory, the Geckos looked to regain top form, showing an all-around display of technical skills and superior teamwork to hold off the late challenge from the Knights.

The first set began shakily with both teams making errors in their attempts to get comfortable. With good assists from Elayne Padyao, the Geckos used effective placement to take the upper hand going up 18-10, forcing St. John’s coach Chris Sheperd to call a timeout to regather his squad. GW took advantage of the Knights’ errors en route to closing out the first set behind strong performances from Maricia Mariano and Geana Leon Guerrero, both of whom recorded multiple kills and aces.

The second set started off with service errors from both squads, although the Knights showcased a strong performance led by freshman Destiny Castro. However, the Knights failed to build on the momentum due to passing errors, which the Geckos were more than happy to capitalize on, taking the lead at 11-8. Following a red card issued to Coach Sheperd, the Knights put on a clinic of serving behind the performance of junior setter Alex McCarroll. McCarroll served four straight aces, perplexing the Geckos defense and forcing GW Coach Bobbi Quinata to call timeout with the Knights having retaken the lead 13-11.

Knights’ Devin Johnson attempts her jump serve in the second set. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Excellent patterns of attack and brilliant defense saw the Knights maintain their lead, until junior Zea Nauta put away two thunderous aces to tie the game 18-18. Although Castro showed great athleticism and skill, the overall play from GW saw them pull away in the end. A service error by the Knights, and a game-ending kill from the Geckos ended the set 25-21, and sealed the victory.

Local volleyball icon and GW Coach Bobbi Quinata commented on the Geckos’ recovery from their loss to the Sharks earlier this week saying, “We took the same approach for this game.” Quinata explained, “These girls had to come in with the right attitude. This particular group is very emotional, they want to get out there and play. I have to try and explain to them that we need a strategy.”
With the win, one can be sure the Geckos are looking to build on their recent success, just in time for the annual Far East Tournament to be held in Guam in a month’s time.

“I’m looking forward to trying to get back to that championship. I’ve been there a lot of times, and it’s been eluding me,” Coach Quinata joked.

Geckos’ Geana Leon Guerrero tries to get passed the double block of Knights’ Alex McCarroll and Destiny Castro. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Geckos saw a well-rounded game from their side with Mariano and Leon Guerrero recording three kills each. Nauta added three blocks, two kills and five aces and Tisha-Renee Aguigui came through with three kills, a tip and three aces. Castro finished the game with four kills, three blocks, a tip and an ace for the Knights, while McCarroll had a solid performance at the service line, notching five aces.

In other games:

Okkodo def. Guam High 25-16, 25-13

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Since forming the GNYFF in 2009, the league has never gone without a season until 2020. The league announced their plans to cancel the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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RIP: Former Guam football player Phil Mendiola, shown here with son Tano, passed away in Las Vegas due to a heart attack. Mendiola played for numerous Guam teams from youth to varsity. He was 39.
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Morgan McKenna (left with black face mask) poses for a photo with Guam Football Association Technical Director Sang Hoon Kim (seated, with blue face mask) and Guam Football Association Assistant Technical Director Ross Awa (standing) after signing his letter of commitment to play intercollegiate men’s soccer for Muskingum University in Ohio. The Fighting Muskies compete in NCAA Division III’s Ohio Athletic Conference.

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