📅17 October 2013
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By GSPN Staff

This years IIAAG Volleyball season has been one of the most competitive in recent years. The Southern Dolphins came out the gates blazing to a 9-0 start, but have lost a few games towards the end of the season. The Academy Cougars won the annual Shieh Tournament and were the early season favorites. The Cougars split their matchups between Southern and Sanchez and appear to be peaking at the right time. The Sharks were just a few errors away in their losses from winning the game, and they can matchup with anybody. The streaking GW Geckos and St. John’s Knights have finished the season strong and will face off against each other in the first round making it the game of the week.

The ND Royals, Okkodo Bulldogs and JFK Islanders are in the mix as well and one thing is for sure, every team has a legitimate shot at the title.

GSPN’s volleyball beat writers Niko Bulaon, Kolby Chang and Sports Director Robert Balajadia try to paint a clearer playoff picture, examining factors that might determine winning games in what is sure to be an exciting playoffs. Oh, and coolest uniforms of course!

Team in Best Position to Win

Dolphins’ Brittany Quinata comes down on the ball as she spikes over to the Cougars side, while Cougars’ Cydni Scott defends the net. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Will the Dolphins and Cougars meet in the finals to settle the score? They have to take out some tough teams along the way. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Kolby: AOLG Cougars – The Cougars are peaking at the right time with hard fought wins over the Geckos and the defending champion Dolphins late in the season. Outside hitter Ladera Linn is a game changer and plays with a lot intensity. She can put her team up big with her kills or she can drop them down because of hitting errors. Linn has good power in her hitting arm and that’s a key factor because I haven’t seen many power hitters in the league this season.

The Cougars also have a size advantage with Cydni Scott and Erin Wong up front. Scott is an athletic player who comes up with big blocks, while Wong has great timing on defense and takes advantage of her height on offense. They also have a deep bench as well as a pair of good setters in Leah Castro and Mika Jakl. Most importantly they seem to handle themselves well under pressure based on the two tight games I’ve covered when they beat the Geckos and the Dolphins.

Niko: Sanchez Sharks – Being first-ranked in the Taga Division, Sanchez is a well-rounded team. Because of their hitters on all corners of the floor (especially the two middle-blockers, Kristin Artero and Kiarra Rojas) Sanchez has been known to be excellent offensively. They are quick on their feet, picking up any tips, and they don’t give up on any play. They move well as a team defensively and offensively. Their setter, Chanel Catunao, is quick and knows how to adjust the ball even on a bad pass. Their offensive plays can be fast-paced and they are pretty consistent on their serves compared to other teams.

Robert: Southern Dolphins – It’s hard to bet against the defending champions. Lorraina Sanchez and April Talledo came up big in the championship game last year and they are still consistently bringing it every time out. The Dolphins started off the season red-hot by going 9-0 before falling to the Cougars. Southern may have stumbled towards the end of the season, but Sanchez, Talledo and key player Tianna Sakaba as the middle blocker should have the Dolphins ready for the playoffs.

Sleeper Team

Two of the league's dangerous teams in the Geckos and Knights will face off in the first round. (photo by Jose Perez)

Two of the league’s dangerous teams in the Geckos and Knights will face off in the first round. (photo by Jose Perez)

Kolby: St. John’s Knights – The Knights can hang with any team in the league and have an excellent coach in Chris Shepherd. Chrisi Iglesias and Kristina Folta are a solid 1-2 punch for the Knights. They can serve and they can score off of kills. The Knights are also one of the taller teams in the league with Allyson Chiu hovering around the net. Alex McCaroll is a good setter and with a pair of hitters in Iglesias and Folta, the Knights can rack up points in a hurry. They beat the teams they’re supposed to during the regular season and took it to the better teams as well so they have all the look of a dark horse.

Niko: GW Geckos – The Geckos made it all the way to the finals last season, proving to be a team not to be taken lightly. Although the Geckos are 3rd ranked in the Gadao Division, they have shown to be a strong team when taken lightly, handing Southern their first season loss. With great outside hitters and consistent passing, GW can be a dangerous team when least expected.

Robert: GW Geckos – Two of the most dangerous teams will play Friday night in the Geckos and Knights. It’s difficult to go against the Knights with how good they have been playing of late behind Kristina Folta and Crisi Iglesias, but the Geckos have a championship pedigree that is also hard to go against. If they get on a roll and minimize their mistakes, they are as dangerous as anyone in the league. Gecko coach Bobbi Quinata has a way of getting her girls ready come playoff time. The Knights will have veteran coach Chris Shepherd in their corner which makes the coaching battle as intriguing as the players on the court.

Most Dangerous Player

Sharks Kiarra Rojas will be a game changing force for the Sharks. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks’ Kiarra Rojas will be a game changing force for the Sanchez. (photo by Asha Robles)

Kolby: Zea Nauta – GW Geckos. Nauta can dish out aces by the bunch. From the games I’ve covered, she’s been the most consistent Gecko on offense. When she’s serving the Geckos always have a legitimate shot of lighting up the scoreboard and cannot be counted out.

Niko: Kiarra Rojas – Sanchez Sharks. Only a sophomore, Rojas dominates the middle-blocker position. Tall and fast, Rojas knows how to play her spot. Her kills are of lightening speed and her blocks are frequently seen. Although her passes are not as consistent, she is a great offensive player and shows great potential in her upcoming years in high school. She is a huge reason for Sanchez’s wins and rankings.

Robert: Ladera Linn – AOLG Cougars. The Cougars are a definite favorite to win it all this year and it all depends if teams can neutralize Linn. She is a dangerous outside hitter and is adept at making key defensive plays to save the Cougars time and again. If she lets loose, that’s ball-game. Cougars blocker Erin Wong is going to hold down the middle, and if Linn is able to find her groove, watch out!

Crowd Advantage

The Cougar fans will roar loud and proud all game long. (photo by Asha Robles)

The Cougar fans will roar loud and proud all game long. (photo by Asha Robles)

Kolby: GW Geckos – Whether GW is playing at home or on the road, the Gecko echo is heard loud and clear. They always seem to have a large group of faithful followers.

Niko: AOLG Cougars – The Cougars have been known to have a huge crowd, every game in every sport. Since the start of the season, the AOLG crowd consists of parents, siblings, family, teachers, fellow classmates, and friends from different schools.  The Cougars have always had a crowd advantage with every home and away game. It will be no surprise if the Cougars have a massive crowd throughout the playoffs.

Robert: AOLG Cougars – It is easy to tell which crowd belongs to the Cougars, the one that celebrates every Cougar point scored regardless of the score. The Cougars will have home advantage for a good portion of the playoffs and the team seems to feed off the crowd energy, a big reason why they have been so successful.

Coolest Uniforms

Kolby: St. John’s Knights – White, red and black mesh well together. The uniform is neat and clean and not overly stylish.

Niko: Sanchez Sharks (Away) – Sanchez has two away uniforms. The Sharks’ no-sleeve uniforms are simply black and white and the long-sleeve are dominantly red. These two uniforms stand out because it’s simple but shows the pride of the Sharks’ team.

Robert: Southern Dolphins – No other school rocks turquoise so boldly. The lady Dolphins always seem to be in the upper echelon of talent in every sport which already says a lot. Maybe it’s just me, but the Dolphins have made the color turquoise synonymous with winning.


(photo by Jesse Castro)

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