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KNIGHTS FEND OFF SHARKS

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By Niko Bulaon

Knights' Allyson Chiu gets up high to make a hit. (photo by Asha Robles)

Knights’ Allyson Chiu gets up high to make a hit. (photo by Asha Robles)

Days after suffering an unexpected loss against the Okkodo Bulldogs, the St. John’s Knights defeated the high-ranked Sanchez Sharks Friday night at the St. John’s gym, in three heart-thumping sets, 17-25, 25-21, 25-19, keeping the Sharks unusual losing streak going.

The third set started with a quick ace by Knights Andrea Odell, but a kill from Sharks Kristen Artero had her team ready for anything. Errors from both teams had the lead changing until a kill by Kristina Folta sparked a Knights run. Two aces by Christe’An Iglesias, an ace by Odell, and several Sharks errors had the Knights taking the lead, 12-7.

With the Sharks losing focus, Shaniah Aguon hit a kill right into the Knights’ territory, breaking St. John’s’ scoring streak. But the Knights weren’t giving in so easily: an ace from Adriana Chang and another kill from Folta brought the Knights’ lead to seven, 19-12. As St. John’s was quickly on the verge of taking the set, Sharks’ hard-hitter Kiarra Rojas sent three lightening kills and, with the help of setter Chanel Catunao with three aces, tied the game at 19-19.

A kill by Iglesias put the Knights back in the lead. As the Sharks fought hard to take back the game, two unanswered kills by Folta and Odell put their team at 24-19. An untimely error by the Sharks ended the set, giving the Knights the win and bringing the Sharks’ losing streak to three games.

“We know what it feels like to play really well,” said Folta on the Knights’ motivation in the third set. “That was our motivation, to look back to this game and say ‘Wow, I’m proud of myself.’”

IMG_5835

McDonald’s player of the game Kristina Folta.

The first set started in the hands of the Sharks: three aces by Aguon had her team leading 5-0. A tip by Allyson Chiu and a kill by Folta had the Knights in the game. But multiple errors and miscommunications kept Sanchez in the lead.

Behind Aguon and Rojas, the Sharks stayed on top of their opponents, sending any tip and kill they could. An unexpected block from Knights Haley Cooper against one of Rojas’ hard spikes gave the Knights the motivation for a comeback, but was stopped short by one of Artero’s kills. St. John’s couldn’t find their rhythm as their opponents blasted four unanswered kills from Rojas and teammate Zhanissa Mendiola, giving Sanchez a first set advantage.

At the start of the second set, the Knights quickly took the lead behind Chang: two kills and two back-to-back aces put her team at 9-2. But a hard kill from Rojas kept the Knights on their toes.

With the Knights up by nine, 18-9, the Sharks found a weakness in their opponents’ defense. Behind middle-blockers Rojas and Artero with a combination of four kills and two aces, Sanchez tied the game at 19-19. But four straight aces from Chiu put the Knights up yet again, 24-19. A Knights error had the Sharks ready for a comeback, but a kill from Iglesias ended Sanchez’s hopes and the second set.

“It’s the mindset,” replied Folta about her team’s comeback. “If we’re not nervous or worried about messing up, we’re working hard and having fun, we can play the best game.”

The Sharks are one of the toughest teams in this year’s IIAAG girls’ volleyball league. Having known this, Folta said, “confidence was the key” to their hard-fought win.

Folta led the Knights with four kills and five saves. Teammate Chang helped with two kills and four aces. Despite the loss, Rojas led her team with 11 kills and two blocks with the help of Artero with six kills, two aces, and a block.

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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

Knights' Chrisi Iglesias digs the ball to save her team from losing the second set. (photo by Asha Robles)

Knights’ Chrisi Iglesias digs the ball to save her team from losing the second set. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks' Kiarra Rojas gets up high as she gets the block. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks’ Kiarra Rojas gets up high as she gets the block. (photo by Asha Robles)

Kristina Folta of the Knights manages to save the ball off of a hard serve. (photo by Asha Robles)

Kristina Folta of the Knights manages to save the ball off of a hard serve. (photo by Asha Robles)

 Sharks' Zhanissa Mendiola gets the dig as she sets up the pace for her team. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks’ Zhanissa Mendiola gets the dig as she sets up the pace for her team. (photo by Asha Robles)

Knights' Adriana Chang tips one over the Sharks' defense. (photo by Asha Robles)

Knights’ Adriana Chang tips one over the Sharks’ defense. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks' Kiarra Rojas gets up high right before she makes a successful kill. (photo by Asha Robles)

Sharks’ Kiarra Rojas gets up high right before she makes a successful kill. (photo by Asha Robles)

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