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COUGARS EDGE BULLDOGS IN THREE SET THRILLER

You could feel the intensity in the air at the Academy gymnasium in Agana as the crowd were treated to a crazy close three set game between the divisional top seeded Cougars and Bulldogs with Academy coming up big in the third set to take the game.

By Jose Terlaje

You could feel the intensity in the air at the Academy gymnasium in Agana as the crowd were treated to a crazy close three set game between the divisional top seeded Cougars and Bulldogs.

A great number of supporters, sporting their team colors, came out to watch the much anticipated IIAAG volleyball regular season match-up as the Cougars battled through three sets 26-24, 19-25, 25-22.

Although both teams committed countless errors during the game, the Academy Cougars were able to come together and bounce back from losing the second set to beat the Bulldogs in three, establishing themselves as the leagues top team.

Consistency in their game plan knowing what to expect when going into the game was a key point for the Cougars.

“We relied on what we’ve been focusing on all season long, which is our team defense. We knew tonight would be a competitive and challenging game. I talked to the girls and helped them visualize what to expect in this game. We knew were going to have runs. We won the first set and lost the second set. I had to make them visualize and prepare for those kinds of scenarios,” said Cougars head coach Manny Guarin when asked how he prepared the Cougars to come into the game against the top-seeded Bulldogs.

Cougar fans celebrate a hard earned victroy after three long sets against the Bulldogs. (photo by Jose Perez)

Cougar fans celebrate a hard earned victroy after three long sets against the Bulldogs. (photo by Jose Perez)

The early portion of the first set was plagued with errors, with neither team being able to capitalize on the mistakes being made by the opposing team. Both teams had trouble getting things to flow both offensively and defensively, keeping the game very tight throughout the set. Towards the end of the set, and the game tied 22-22, the Cougars were finally able to get something going.

A kill by setter Mya Sanchez put the Cougars up, 23-22. After another Cougar error tied up the game, Jasie Villanueva drilled a huge spike into the floor for the Cougars, putting them up 24-23. Okkodo would respond and tie the game up once more but a huge block by Sidney Scott gave the lead back to the Cougars. Scott went on to end the set with a big spike that the Bulldogs could not pick up.

The start of the second set was looking brighter with Okkodo starting it off on a 3-0 run and a huge kill by Sirena Cepeda. The Bulldogs would continue to commit errors but maintained a 3-2 lead. The Cougars’ Juliana Nelson would capitalize on the Bulldogs’ mistakes, serving up three straight aces to put the Cougars in the lead. Scott would come up with another kill to extend the lead but a string of Cougar mistakes would keep the score tight.

Led by Sanchez and Scott, serving up aces and getting a number of kills, the Cougars were able to build a 17-13 lead over the Bulldogs. After building their lead, the Cougars began to fall apart in the set, committing a handful of mistakes and giving the Bulldogs free balls that they were able to act on with a kill by Cepeda and an ace served up by Lori Okada to tie the game 17-up. Cepeda would get another kill before another string of Cougar errors that ended the set in favor of the Bulldogs 25-19.

Bulldogs Lori Okada was able to dink away from an out-stretched Cougar defender. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Lori Okada was able to dink away from an out-stretched Cougar defender. (photo by Jose Perez)

The Cougars came into the third set strong, setting the pace with kills by Scott and Ha’ani San Nicolas to give them a 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs’ Cepeda would lead her team, answering a number of Cougar kills with one of her own. With good passes from Meagan Maratita and Dawn Makio the Cougars’ scoring duo of Sanchez and Scott kept the game neck-and-neck, with big plays coming from Villanueva, San Nicolas and Kyra Lee as well.

Sloppy errors would continue to plague both sides, with neither being able to come up with a big lead. Towards the end of the set, the Cougars’ Villanueva was able to send a rocket over the net that the Bulldogs were unable to return, putting the Cougars up 21-19. The Bulldogs attempted to comeback but a number of miscommunications and errors halted the Bulldogs’ efforts with the final four points going towards the Cougars being scored off Bulldog mistakes, ending the set 25-22, with the Cougars coming out on top with the win.

“I come into these games thinking that I need to do the best that I can do and not worry about everyone else. I need to control what I am capable of controlling and let everything else just happen”, replied the Cougars’ Sidney Scott when asked about her offensive and defensive mindset on the court. Scott also gave credit for her offensive skills to the defensive players on her team. She stated that practicing against a good defense helps sharpen her offense.

2014 Girls Volleyball Standings

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Wil Castro

Cougars vs Bulldogs. (photo by Jose Perez)

Cougars Mya Sanchez back sets to a waiting Cyndi Scott. (photo by Jose Perez)

Cougars Mya Sanchez back sets to a waiting Cyndi Scott. (photo by Jose Perez)

Cougars Jasie Villanueva was too strong at the net with her powerful spikes. (photo by Jose Perez)

Cougars Jasie Villanueva was too strong at the net with her powerful spikes. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Sierna Cepeda is unable to recover after her spiked was blocked. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Sierna Cepeda is unable to recover after her spiked was blocked. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Lori Okada was able to get her spike past Cougar defender Cyndi Scott. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Lori Okada was able to get her spike past Cougar defender Cyndi Scott. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Lori Okada has her spike blocked by Cyndi Scott of the Cougars. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Lori Okada has her spike blocked by Cyndi Scott of the Cougars. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Jestyne Sablan gets low to recover a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Bulldogs Jestyne Sablan gets low to recover a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

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