By Mike Nauta Jr.
Just when volleyball action around the island looked to have simmered down, five teams participating in the 2014 Youth Games got things going Thursday night at the George Washington gymnasium. With three games scheduled, teams from the Philippines and Guam gave their respective supporters and fans in attendance lots to cheer about. In the last game of the evening, the SFS Crusaders went to battle against Team Manhoben. At the sound of the final whistle, it was Manhoben who earned a straight-set (25-12, 25-17) win in the battle of Guam teams.
“This was a great game played by both teams,” said SFS Crusaders coach John Afaisen. “Our girls played well and gained good experience against a very good and disciplined Manhoben team.”
In the early part of the game, both teams looked to find rhythm and their comfort zone. An early trading of point kept things within striking distance. With the score knotted at 5-5, Manhoben’s Dariana “Atulai” Lujan found an opening in the Crusaders defense to give her team the lead. Moments later, ShaiAnn Trinidad took control from the service line and eventually gave Manhoben an 11-5 lead after racking about five aces.
The Crusaders refused to let down and continued to fight back with the hustle play of Kioko Afaisen, Cedera Aguilar, and Tatiana Afaisen. Despite the tough defense of Manhoben, the Crusaders managed to narrow the gap and pulled within two midway through making it a 13-11 game. However, the mini-rally proved to be a wake-up call for Manhoben as they turned up the heat on both offense and defense. The trio of Alexis “Hippie” Taisipic, Lujan, and Isanna “Mary” Taijeron led Manhoben on a 12-1 surge to close out the set.
“We know what our team is capable of doing, but our mistakes is what we have to limit in order for us to finish off sets,” said Manhoben’s Taisipic. “When we play teams like the Crusaders, we can’t take things lightly. It’s always play until the last point.”
Second set action began much like the first. However, it was experience that proved to be the difference between the two teams. Despite trailing early, Manhoben remained poised and eventually found momentum led by the serving and hitting of Lujan and Camarin Breton respectively that led taking a 13-9 lead halfway through the set. SFS managed to close the margin of deficit and made it 20-17 late in the game. However, that would be as close as they got as Jacqueline Toves, Trinidad, and Lujan sealed the victory with three aces and two kills combined.
“Tonight is over and done with, all teams did well today,” said Afaisen. “Tomorrow it’s back to work for everyone and we look forward to another exciting time with all the teams.”
2014 Youth Games action continues Friday night with three games to be played at the Saint Anthony Gymnasium. At 5pm, Team Pampanga will go to battle against Manhoben. The 6pm game will feature another battle between Guam teams as the Crusaders take on the SPS Warriors. In the nightcap, Manhoben returns to the floor at 7pm to take on DLS Canlubang.
The SFS Crusader kicked things off going up against DLS Canlubang in a match that was close from beginning to end. However, when all was said and done, it was the visiting team from the Philippines who walked away with a 25-18, 25-16 victory.
The second match pitted the SPS Warriors taking on Team Pampanga. While the match could’ve gone either way, it was the Warriors who stole a 25-23, 26-24 victory.
GPS Sports Calendar