ACADEMY LOOKS TO REPEAT AS COURT QUEENS

ACADEMY LOOKS TO REPEAT AS COURT QUEENS

📅14 October 2014
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By Patrick Lujan

The top-ranked Academy Cougars are one win away from winning back-to-back IIAAG Girls Volleyball League championships after eliminating the Southern Dolphins 26-24, 25-16, 26-24 Tuesday night in Hagatna.

The Cougars will now take on archrival GW Geckos Thursday night at the UOG Field House at 7 pm (Televised LIVE with GSPN on Docomo Channel 2).

In what was a well-played game that neither team should not be ashamed of, the taller Cougars had just enough advantage in a battle that saw staunch defenses, crisp passing, hard serving and well-executed offensive attacks.

“It was a very intense game and we knew it was going to be close and it was whoever wanted it more,” Cougars senior leader Cydni Scott said after the match. “Southern played good; they always bring it.”

The All-Island middle blocker was a focal point for the Academy attack finishing with seven kills and five aces on the night. League co-MVP Jasie Villanueva led the way with nine kills and four aces for the Cougars.

If there was any distinct difference in this tight semifinal match, it was the defensive coverage the Cougars displayed. Time and time again, a defender was in the proper position to return a hit, which led to setter Mya Sanchez’s smooth execution of the offense.

“It’s team defense,” Cougars head coach Manny Guarin said. “Great teams have great defenses. Championship teams have outstanding defenses, and that’s what we strive to do.”

“Defense first before hitting,” Scott added. “Our coach always tells us that it starts there.”

Here’s a set-by-set recap of the great battle between the Cougars and Dolphins:

1st set

The Cougars jumped out to a 5-1 lead on a Scott ace before the Dolphins tied it at 7-7 on an ace from Brittany Quinata; the longest rally of the night occurred in the first set when both teams executed to perfection before Villanueva ended the rally with a kill and an 11-7 lead.

The Dolphins, behind their loud followers, managed to take a 15-13 lead before the Cougars went on a 10-4 run for what it seemed to be an easy finish. Southern, however, squirmed its way back to a 24-24 deadlock when Darianna Lujan dropped in an ace. She would then serve into the net to give Academy set point. Scott would finish off the opener as she stuffed an overpass for an easy block and the 26-24 win.

Unforced errors: Southern 5, AOLG 10; Service errors: Southern 5, AOLG 2; Aces: Southern 6 (Lujan 2, Tenorio, Quinata, Surber, Talledo), AOLG 5 (Nelson 2, Villanueva 2, Scott); Kills: Southern 6 (Lujan 3, Tenorio, Quinata, Talledo), AOLG 9 (Villanueva 5, Scott 2, Blas, Nelson); Blocks: Southern 0, AOLG 2 (Blas, Scott)

Juliana Nelson kills a spike over the net to keep the Cougars in the lead.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Juliana Nelson kills a spike over the net to keep the Cougars in the lead. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

2nd set

It was close through midway. In fact, the Dolphins trailed only 15-14 before the Cougars steam rolled late for an easy win. Scott had four kills and four aces in the set to pave the way, acing three of the last four points in the set.

Southern rested two of their top players in the set: April Talledo and Marlisah Tenorio.

Unforced errors: Southern 7, AOLG 6; Service errors: Southern 3, AOLG 2; Aces: Southern 3 (Surber 2, King), AOLG 6 (Scott 4, Nelson 2); Kills: Southern 4 (Quenga, Taijeron, Quinata, King), AOLG 8 (Scott 4, Villanueva 2, Blas, Nelson); Blocks: Southern 1 (Aguon), AOLG 1 (Blas)

3rd set

With Talledo and Tenorio back into the fold, it was a close match once again. Southern jumped ahead early 4-1, but Academy would take the lead for good at 6-5 though it was super close throughout.

The Cougars couldn’t shake off the Dolphins as the southern girls kept hanging around. Academy had a little breathing room after hard-hitting sophomore Juliana Nelson’s ace gave them a 20-16 edge, but the Dolphins wouldn’t go down without a fight as Talledo displayed her athleticism and jumping abilities. Her fourth kill of the set gave Southern a glimmer of hope at 23-22.

With the set tied 24-24, another Dolphins service error set the Cougars up for match point. That’s when Nelson ended the night as she dropped a kill off a block that fell right into the middle of the Dolphins defense.

Unforced errors: Southern 7, AOLG 10; Service errors: Southern 4, AOLG 1; Aces: Southern 3 (Talledo, Quinata, Tenorio), AOLG 6 (Scott 2, Villanueva 2, Nelson); Kills: Southern 8 (Talledo 4, Quinata, Quenga, Tenorio, Lujan), AOLG 9 (Blas 3, Nelson 3, Villanueva 2, Scott); Blocks: Southern 2 (Tenorio 2), AOLG 1 (Blas). Officials: Hattig, Calvo

April Talledo hits a spike just centimeters over the net for a clean spike in the third match.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

April Talledo hits one just centimeters over the net for a clean spike in the third match. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Championship Bound

Now it’s familiar territory for the Cougars – championship volleyball. The most successful Far East girls volleyball program on island will try to add another banner to its dim gym against a familiar foe in the Geckos.

“Nothing but that – the championship,” Coach Guarin said. “We have what it takes, just need to have the mental preparation there.”

Other Semifinals Game:

GW def. ND 26-24, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Wil Castro

VBall 7

April Talledo finds an opening in the Cougars defense for a perfect slam to the court in the third match of play.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

April Talledo finds an opening in the Cougars defense for a perfect slam to the court in the third set of play. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Joie Blas of the Cougars gets in the way of a spike from Dolphin, Brittany Quinata.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Joie Blas of the Cougars gets in the way of a spike from Dolphin Brittany Quinata. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Cyndi Scott of he Cougars hammers down a spike from the front row during their semi-final match against the Dolphins.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Cydni Scott of the Cougars hammers down a spike from the front row during their semifinal match against the Dolphins. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Juliana Nelson of the Cougars goes for a cross court spike to avoid the block from Darianna Lujan.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Juliana Nelson of the Cougars goes for a cross court spike to avoid the block from Darianna Lujan. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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