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SHARKS BEAT KNIGHTS IN THREE

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By Crystal Aguon

Sharks’ middle blocker Giselle Kho hits over a St. John’s double block for the kill. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Simon Sanchez Sharks and St. John’s Knights were set to battle for a back-to-back win after both teams won their season opener Friday night. Both teams were determined to keep their record flawless causing tension, nervousness, and a make or break third set. Battling it out in a three-set game 25-19, 24-26, 25-20, it was the Sharks that grabbed the first and third set to take the win.

The game started out jittery with errors from both sides of the floor. It wasn’t until the Sharks star outside hitter Edelene Cruz slammed the ball straight down into her opponent’s court did her team pick up momentum with a 4-1 lead. Another kill from Sharks co-star Giselle Kho and numerous errors on the Knights caused the Sharks to slip into a comfortable 13-1 lead.

Finally, an error on the Sharks gave the Knights a chance to capitalize. St. John’s freshman middle blocker Destiny Castro had two hard hits, slightly closing the score gap to 13-4. However, Cruz put the power away, played smart and glided the ball from the right side of the court all the way to the huge space on the left side for a point on their side of the score board. Both teams exchanged kills putting points on their respective sides one by one. There were constant defensive communication errors on both ends, but the Sharks capitalized on their offense with Cruz to lead in kills and the set at game point, 24-12. The Knights did not let the score bring them down; they fought as hard as they could, pushing their points up one at a time. The Knights were just too late because a beautiful dig, a perfectly executed set, followed by a hard sharp hit from Cruz sent them the message and ended the set at 25-19.

Knights outside hitter jumps up to tip the ball into Shark territory. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The second set was a whole new game and the intensity was at a whole new level. The kills along with errors from both teams went back and forth, causing the score to be incredibly tight. Pressure caused both teams points and simple mistakes became their downfall. Three consecutive Shark errors gave the Knights their first lead of the night at 13-12. However, the lead was quickly lost and the score continued to fluctuate. Castro tried to build her team some momentum by putting up a huge block and tying the score 19-19. All of a sudden it became a block party on both ends, and the teams started to find their rhythm. Two crucial mistakes on the Sharks caused the Knights to pull away at game point 24-22. Sharks Giselle Kho tried to redeem her team by recording a great kill, evening the score 24-24. However, the Knights fought for a third set by taking the second set 26-24.

The final set came down to who could minimize their errors. As everyone in the gym felt the tension, both teams remained composed. There were long nice beautiful rallies consisting of continuous bump, set, spike execution. Although the score was tight and both teams shared outstanding kills, it was Cruz’s strong seven kills and two aces that got the crowd jumping out of their seats. The score see-sawed back and forth through out the set until Sharks Kho found the Knights weak spot as the score was 20-20. Cruz, Kho, and the fellow Sharks used that exposed weak spot to catch their strong win of the set and game at 25-20.

“We want championship, but we are taking it one game at a time,” said Cruz, who finished the game with thirteen kills, three aces, and five digs.

Knights Destiny Castro had eight kills, four blocks, and three digs in the loss.

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QUICK HITS

The Guam men’s national basketball team moved up four slots in the FIBA World Ranking to #72 after an impressive win over Mongolia and a hard-fought loss to Japan.
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Shawn Bamba won the Arizona state wrestling championship while siblings Jussiah and Justyn took third place in their divisions at state.
Shawn (12th) won the 150-lb division while Jussiah (11th) took bronze in the 120-lb class and Justyn (9th) took bronze in the 106-lb category.
All three were born on Guam before moving to Surprise, Arizona in 2014, where they all picked up wrestling in 2016.
Their parents are Justin and Shannon Bamba from Pago Bay.

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