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COUGARS PUNCH FINALS TICKET

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By Kolby Chang

Cougars’ Erin Wong takes advantage of a sui-set intended for Knights’ Andrea Odell, as she dumps the ball back to the Knights’ side. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Erin Wong takes advantage of a sui-set intended for Knights’ Andrea Odell, as she dumps the ball back to the Knights’ side. (photo by Jesse Castro)

The Academy Cougars punched their ticket to the IIAAG Girls’ Volleyball championship game by dismissing the St. John’s Knights 25-13, 25-19 in their semifinal match up Monday night at the John F. Kennedy gym.

The Cougars will battle the Southern Dolphins for the title this Friday at 7pm at the JFK gym.

Cougars coach Manny Guarin credited his team’s work ethic for their success this season and he is happy see them reap the rewards. Now just one more win away from the title, Guarin and the Cougars have their sights set on the big task that lies ahead.

“We have to focus on only what we can control. We have to have good ball control and just play our hearts out,” Guarin said. “At this stage of the season it’s all about desire.”

The Cougars played with the poise of a contender as they turned back every challenge a resilient Knights squad threw at them. Down by as much as six points in the second set, middle hitter Erin Wong took charge for the Cougars and unleashed a dazzling display of kills and blocks that carried her team to victory. Wong finished the game with nine kills and two blocks. In spite of the win Wong said there’s always room for improvement especially with a championship on the line.

“I think we have a lot of potential and we could have played better but played well enough to win,” the senior said.

Knights’ Chrisi Iglesias flies to make the spike sending the ball to the Cougars’ side. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Chrisi Iglesias flies to make the spike sending the ball to the Cougars’ side. (photo by Jesse Castro)

The Cougars looked strong early in the first set as they clawed their way to a 12-4 following a kill from Ladera Linn. The Knights tried to fight back but the Cougars managed to maintain a sizable margin throughout the set. Another kill from Linn gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the game at 18-9. An ace from Jasie Villanueva put the match at set point and a Knights’ error closed out the set.

A much different Knights team took the court in the second set as their passes looked crisper and their offense finally got into a steady groove. League MVP Alex McCarroll had a huge block for the Knights to make the score 9-7 and also sent the throng of Knights’ faithful into a frenzy. Sensing a change in momentum, Guarin called for time but the Knights continued to push after the break and an ace from Chrisi Igesias gave the Knights their largest lead of the evening with score now 13-8.

Not a team to be denied, the Cougars regrouped and chipped away at the lead. Two aces from Celete Guarin sliced the deficit to 13-11 and gave the Cougars’ supporters something to cheer about. Wong then went on a tear throwing down three consecutive kills to make the score 14-13 and the Cougars look ready to rally.

With the Cougars now up by one point, the Knights displayed some fortitude and poise of their own as they recaptured the lead at 19-14. The lead, however, was short-lived as Wong had two big blocks and an error committed by the Knights tied the set at 19. Another block from Wong a few plays later made the score 22-19 and another Knights’ error put the Cougars on the cusp of victory. It was then only fitting that Wong scored the final points of the game with back-to-back kills that sent the Knights home.

Other Semifinal

Southern def. Sanchez 25-21, 25-23

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

http://www.akguam.com/ou/tamuning-scion/

Cougars’ Erin Wong spikes the ball sending it flying past Knights’ Andrea Odell to score a point. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Erin Wong spikes the ball sending it flying past Knights’ Andrea Odell to score a point. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Gemilie Ilao spikes the ball past Knights’ Haley Cooper. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Gemilie Ilao spikes the ball past Knights’ Haley Cooper. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Alex McCarroll tries to dump the ball, but Cougars’ Cyndi Scott is ready for the surprise attack. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Alex McCarroll tries to dump the ball, but Cougars’ Cyndi Scott is ready for the surprise attack. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Catherine Chung spikes the ball while Cougars’ Erin Wong prepares to make a block. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Catherine Chung spikes the ball while Cougars’ Erin Wong prepares to make a block. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ rally around Coach Guarin during a timeout. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ rally around Coach Guarin during a timeout. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ gather around Coach Shepherd during a timeout. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ gather around Coach Shepherd during a timeout. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Mylisa Gillan and Gemilie Ilao move to make a save and sends over a free ball. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Cougars’ Mylisa Gillan and Gemilie Ilao move to make a save and sends over a free ball. (photo by Jesse Castro)

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