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DOLPHINS FIGHT TO FINALS

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By Bucky Brennan

Islanders’ Kristin Sapp slams down a kill in the second set. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Southern High Dolphins continue their Cinderella run through this year’s IIAAG Girl’s Volleyball Playoffs. But with the Dolphins’ victory over the JFK Islanders, the Islanders hopes of a Cinderella finish and championship of their own are dashed.

In game one of the semifinal double-header at Okkodu High School Tuesday night, the Dolphins beat the Islanders 25-15, 21-25, 25-16.

The first set saw the Islanders plagued with unforced errors as the Dolphins’ scrappy volleyball style dominated the game. The Dolphins controlled the set and JFK could never string together any points or momentum. Southern comfortably closed out the set 25-15.

Dolphins’ Tianna Sakaba tips the ball over the block of Islanders’ Erin Wong. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

In the second, the Islanders came alive and looked like a different team. From the get-go, their confidence seemed to skyrocket as they attacked the Dolphins at every opportunity. JFK’s Kristin Sapp got things going with booming back-to-back kills that got the Islanders fans to their feet. Savannah Mafnas followed with an ace as the Islanders took a 3-1 lead. After trading points to get to 6-3, Sapp notched another hard kill to stifle the inklings of a Southern comeback.

The teams continued to battle for points as the momentum swung back and forth. With the score at 9-8 and Southern looking like they would come back, Sapp stepped to the serving line and served two straight jump-serve aces that built the Islanders an 11-9 lead. But the Dolphins were not to be outdone. Southern’s Tianna Sakaba hammered a kill and the teams traded errors and points until the score line read 13-13. Not surprisingly, JFK setter Jasmine Cruz went to Sapp again and she smashed another kill, this time from the back row, to put the Islanders up 14-13. The teams swapped points again to bring the score to 16-14 with JFK still leading. With the game in the balance and both teams fighting for control of the teetering momentum, Cruz sent back-to-back low sets across the net. Sapp’s timing was perfect as she smashed both sets and stifled Southern’s hopes at closing the gap. From there, the score read 18-14 and Southern’s confidence floundered as the Islanders went on to close the set 25-21.

The McDonald’s offensive player of the game: Dolphins opposite April Talledo

The McDonald’s defensive player of the game: Dolphins outside hitter Paige Surber

With the gym nearing capacity as fans cleared the Northern traffic to get to Okkodu on a weekday afternoon, both coaches made their final adjustments for a third set that would ultimately decide their team’s fates for this year’s season. Southern elected to serve to start the set. JFK rode the wave of their second set victory and got things going quick in the third. Errors plagued the Dolphins and the Islanders took a commanding 6-2 lead to open. After several errors from both sides, Sapp notched another ace. After a JFK error for a Southern sideout, the Dolphins decided enough was enough. April Talledo, a Southern standout on the night, notched two aces while Lorraina Sanchez and All-Island 2nd team honoree Paige Surber swatted kills to get Southern’s fire going. With the fire and momentum, the Southern ladies pulled away and built a comfortable lead over the Islanders at 16-11. Sakaba smashed a kill to start a Dolphin six-point battle where players dove and sprawled and long rallies were the trend. Southern comfortably held the lead at 20-13. Sapp notched another kill hoping for a comeback attempt, but Islanders errors got the Dolphins to game point at 24-16. Talledo smashed a deep kill to open space to end the Islanders Cinderella story, and send the Dolphins to Friday’s championship game.

They now take on the GW Geckos, who beat the defending champion Sanchez Sharks in two sets in the second semifinals.

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Islanders’ Amanda Torres attempts to block a hit by Dolphins’ Paige Surber. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

JFK head coach Alden Bautista gives instructions during a timeout. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Islanders’ Savannah Mafnas makes a good pass off a serve receive. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Islanders’ Erin Wong jumps high for the kill in the second set. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Dolphins hug in celebration after winning the third set and now look forward to the championship match. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

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