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KNIGHTS SURVIVE GECKO RALLY

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By Kolby Chang

Kristina Fola of the Knights gets her spike through the hands of Gecko defender. (photo by Jose Perez)

Kristina Fola of the Knights gets her spike through the hands of Gecko defense. (photo by Jose Perez)

The St. John’s Knights withstood a furious rally from the George Washington Geckos and emerged with a thrilling 25-21, 17-25, 28-26 victory in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam Girls’ Volleyball League Tuesday night at the St. John’s gym.

The Knights entered the game with a so-so 4-3 record but after earning a win against a historically strong Geckos squad, it gives the Knights something to build off of according to coach Chris Shepherd.

‘GW’s a great team. They’re always a great team so if you can beat them no matter where it’s at it should help your team with their confidence level,’ Shepherd said.

The Geckos didn’t appear to be on the same page at the start of the game as several errors allowed the Knights to get off to an early 3-1 lead. Thanks to some dynamic offense provided by Zea Nauta, however, the visitors settled in and scrapped their way back into the game. Nauta fired off two consecutive aces and blasted down a kill to tie the set at 6. The game’s first tie was a telltale sign of just how competitive this match was going to be.

Kristina Folta

McDonald’s Player of the Game Kristina Folta

Later in the set, the Geckos tied the game at 15 when Samantha Quinata delivered an ace. The home team eventually broke free from the stalemate after Adriana Chang shot off an ace of her own to make the score 20-18. Two back-to-back errors by the Geckos put it at set point and Chang ended it by crushing down a kill after receiving a nice pass from Alex McCarroll.

The visiting team regrouped and came out with a sense of urgency in the second set. A nice kill by Jasmine Almoguera gave the Geckos a big 16-8 lead and they continued to roll from there. Several plays later, Aunkia Chaco’s ace made the score 22-15 and a few errors by the Knights closed out the set.

With a throng of vocal supporters behind them, the Geckos looked poised to pull off the comeback but the Knights jumped out to quick 8-3 lead after Haley Cooper tipped the ball past the Gecko defense. Just as they did in the first set, however, the Geckos worked their way back into the game and tied it at 9-apiece off of an ace from Meliza Pama.

The teams continued to battle until the Knights’ Chrisi Iglesias tied it at 20 after she fired off an ace. The Geckos then capitalized off of some errors by the Knights and found themselves up 23-20 after a huge kill by Geana Leon Guerrero. The Knights scored but the Geckos’ Maricia Mariano followed up with an ace to put the game at match point and the visitors were on the verge of an exciting comeback.

Knight's Allyson Chiu was able to see a gap in the defense and adjusted from a spike to a dink. (photo by Jose Perez)

Knight’s Allyson Chiu was able to see a gap in the defense and adjusted from a spike to a dink. (photo by Jose Perez)

The Knights’ Kristina Folta, however, had different plans. After the home team got possession of the ball following a Gecko error, Folta stepped up to serve the ball with the game on the line. ‘Keep calm, keep calm. The whole thing is imagine the ball going over the net. That’s my motto,’ Folta said when asked what was going through her head at that critical moment.

Folta did not let her team down as she rocketed off an ace to give the Knights some life. Chang then tipped the ball on the next play and Folta again delivered an ace to tie it at 24. The Geckos’ crowd seemed deflated until the Knights committed an error on the next play and gave the Geckos a one point lead. The Knights’ Andrea Odell responded by throwing down a kill to make the score 25-all and teammate Allyson Chiu then scored off of a tip. A Knights error on the next play, however, tied it at 26 but two consecutive errors by the Geckos ended the game.

Going into the decisive set Folta knew the Knights had their backs against the wall going but they rallied around each other to pull out the gutsy win. ‘We know what we’re capable of and when we know we’re not reaching that level then we have to push harder,’ Folta said.

The loss dropped the Geckos’ record to 5-3.

Other Scores

Guam High def. Sanchez 21-25, 25-19, 25-22

According to Dave Ornauer from Pacific Stars and Stripes, this is the FIRST time Guam High has ever defeated Sanchez in volleyball. Sanchez was playing without senior setter Chanel Catunao who injured her ankle against Southern last Saturday.

Sanchez coach Art Stanley commented on the game saying,”I tip my hat’s off to them. They really took it to us.”

Academy def. Harvest 25-22, 25-8

Girls Vball Standings

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