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GECKOS GOING FOR NUMBER 3

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By Patrick Lujan

All-Island setter Allen Camacho displays body control with a one-handed set at the net. (photo by Jesse Castro)

All-Island setter Allen Camacho displays body control with a one-handed set at the net. Okkodo’s Aiden Ferrara and Jeddou Antonio are there to contest. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Winning never gets old.

The two-time defending champion GW Geckos are one win away from hoisting the IIAAG Boys Volleyball League trophy once again.

The undefeated Geckos had their hands full with the fifth-ranked Okkodo Bulldogs, coming back in both sets to win 25-20, 25-22 Monday night at the UOG Field House.

They move on to the championship game against the JFK Islanders, who defeated the FD Friars in the first semifinal match by the exact score.

The Bulldogs came out swinging as middle blocker Jeddou Antonio sparked an early 5-0 lead with two kills.

“I saw a very aggressive Okkodo offense and I knew we had our work cut out for us,” said GW assistant coach Joel Quitugua.

Okkodo held on to that lead until the Geckos went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game 11-10 on an Allander Ebeo block.

Six ties later, the Bulldogs took a 19-18 edge on Aaron Blaz’s fourth kill of the set.

That was before the Geckos went on a 5-0 run highlighted by a Devin Maluwelmeng floor-denting kill off an X2 play. Maluwelmeng, the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league, somehow was selected only as an honorable mention by the coach’s All-Island list.

Ebio would close out the set with a block on Blaz.

“It was hard, but knowing my team, we always pull through,” said sophomore All-Island setter Allen Camacho, who was instrumental in orchestrating the highly-potent Geckos offense.

The second set was similar to the first as Okkodo once again came out charging to a 5-1 lead behind early kills from Blaz, Antonio and Aiden Ferrara.

The Bulldogs actually took the largest lead of the night at 12-5 on a net violation by GW star Luis Mesngon.

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Allander Ebeo and Allen Camacho are there to stop Aiden Ferrara’s kill attempt. (photo by Jesse Castro)

But the deficit didn’t deter the Geckos’ mettle.

“I don’t think we felt that we were going to lose,” Camacho said. “We just stayed focus, as usual, and we just played our game and played smart.”

The Geckos slowly cut into the lead behind its net play – particularly on the defensive end.

“Our defense is based around our blocks,” coach Quitugua added. “When the guys are where they’re supposed to be, it will work. We’d like our blocks to do most of the work.”

And work it did, mostly behind Ebeo and sophomore Matthew Soto.

GW finally caught up to the Bulldogs at 18-18, but Okkodo wouldn’t go down without a fight as Blaz’s game-high ninth kill had the Bulldogs ahead 21-20.

But another Gecko run pushed the volleyball powerhouse team to the finals. After the game, it was business as usual with hardly a celebration.

“I think if we lay it all out on Wednesday, we should come out on top,” Quitugua added. “We just keep playing our system of volleyball, we should be ok. We’re confident but we won’t take anyone for granted.”

The Geckos are the obvious favorites heading into the championship match, but the Islanders pose a serious threat with a stiff backcourt defense and the deceiving attack from the Zacarias twins (Zakary and Zhedryk).

“They’re smart players, they like to tool and they find a way to find the open court. We just have to be on our toes and let our system work for us.,” Quitugua said about the finals matchup.

Geckos def, Bulldogs 25-20, 25-22

1st set

Aces: GW 1 (Mesngon 1), Okk 1 (Cristobal 1).

Unforced errors: GW 9, Okk 8.

Service errors: GW 3, Okk 1.

Kills: GW 11 (Maluwelmeng 5, Mesngon 2, Ebeo 2, Soto 2), Okk 7 (Blaz 4, Antonio 3).

Blocks: GW 3 (Ebeo 2, Camacho 1), Okk 0.

Ties: 8

2nd set

Aces: GW 2 (Mesngon 1, Quichocho 1), Okk 1 (Leong 1).

Unforced errors: GW 7, Okk 13.

Service errors: GW 4, Okk 1.

Kills: GW 8 (Maluwelmeng 3, Mesngon 2, Ebeo 2, Soto 1), Okk 8 (Blaz 5, Antonio 2, Ferrara 1).

Blocks: GW 3 (Soto 3), Okk 1 (Blaz 1).

Ties: 4

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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

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Gecko Mattew Soto works the net against the Bulldogs (photo by Jesse Castro)

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Okkodo’s Aaron Blaz drills a kill past Geo Quichocho. (photo by Jesse Castro)

 Devin Maluwelmeng delivers one of his team-high eight kills as the Geckos advance to the championship game against the Islanders. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Devin Maluwelmeng delivers one of his team-high eight kills as the Geckos advance to the championship game against the Islanders. (photo by Jesse Castro)

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The Geckos defense prepares for the Bulldogs attack. (photo by Jesse Castro)

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Junior Jeddou Antonio rises up for a hit for the Bulldogs. (photo by Jesse Castro)

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