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DOLPHINS READY TO REPEAT

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By Niko Bulaon

Dolphins Tianna Sakaba was able to spike the ball off balance. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Dolphins Tianna Sakaba was able to spike the ball off balance. (Photo by Jose Perez)

The IIAAG girls’ volleyball league semi-finals took off Tuesday night at the JFK gym. The Southern Dolphins took another step forward into the playoffs, defeating the Sanchez Sharks in two hard-fought sets, 25-21, 25-23, aiming for a back-to-back title.

Game jitters were the problem for both Dolphins and Sharks; error after error kept the score tight with neither team breaking away. But two aces by Tanya Flores pushed Southern forward, taking the lead from their opponents. With Southern taking off, the Sharks were found in a slump. Three aces and a kill by Tianna Sakaba kept the Dolphins up by eight, 18-10.

Sharks’ Kristin Artero kept her team in the game, but a kill by April Talledo and three back-to-back aces by Brittany Quinata put Southern three points away from the first set win, 22-14. A kill by Sharks’ Shaniah Aguon stunned her opponents and gave hope to her team for a comeback. An unfortunate serving error put Southern only a point away and a quick tip by Flores gave Southern the first set advantage.

Sharks Kiarra Rojas spikes a ball over the out streatched arms of Dolphins Tianna Sakaba. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Sharks Kiarra Rojas spikes a ball over the out streatched arms of Dolphins Tianna Sakaba. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Wanting to step up their game, Sanchez started the second set strong; a kill by Zhanissa Mendiola and an ace by Aguon put up 3-0, but another error by the Sharks put Southern in the game. Multiple errors by both teams had the lead changing, but a huge block by Artero gave her team the boost they needed. Sharks Kiarra Rojas stepped up with two kills and a block to bring her team up by eight, 19-11.

Untimely errors by Sanchez and two kills by Quinata cut the lead to four. But Mendiola’s kill and ace brought the Sanchez lead back to eight. Another mistake from the Sharks and four back-to-back aces by Lorraina Sanchez put Southern right behind their opponents, 22-21. A kill from Aguon gave the Sharks a little breather but Sanchez’s errors were the downfall, breaking their lead and giving Southern the win.

“I’m just really proud of my team,” stated Sakaba, “We played as hard as we could. All I could say is that we played with all our hearts.”

Last season, the Dolphins were ranked third in the Gadao Division, only to surprise every team in the playoffs by upsetting the St. John’s Knights, defeating the JFK Islanders, and battling it out against the GW Geckos to eventually take home the championship trophy. With the Southern Dolphins preparing to play in the most important game of the season, Sakaba said, “We’ll practice hard as always. Our two coaches really help us out. All we have to do is play hard, stay humble, and play our game.”

Sakaba led her team with two kills and four aces with the help of teammate Talledo with three kills. Despite the loss, Rojas blasted four kills and a block.

Other Game:

Cougars def. Knights 25-13, 25-19

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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

Player of the game Tianna Sakaba.

Player of the game Tianna Sakaba.

Sharks Patience Artero trys to direct her spike around the hands of Dolphins Tianna Sakaba. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Sharks Patience Artero trys to direct her spike around the hands of Dolphins Tianna Sakaba. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Dolphins Tianna Sakaba serves one up for her team. (Photo by Jose Perez)

Dolphins Tianna Sakaba serves one up for her team. (Photo by Jose Perez)

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