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BULLDOGS ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS

The defending IIAAG Boys Volleyball Champion Okkodo Bulldogs are now just two victories away from repeating as champions after defeating the Guam High Panthers in straight sets Saturday night on their home floor.

By Jay Leon Guerrero

Okkodos setter Rai Santos makes a nice quick set to the middle hitter for the kill. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodos setter Rai Santos makes a nice quick set to the middle hitter for the kill. (photo by Joey Blas)

The defending IIAAG Boys Volleyball Champion Okkodo Bulldogs are two victories away from repeating as champions after defeating the Guam High Panthers in straight sets (26-24, 25-20, 25-20) Saturday night on their home floor.

The Bulldogs were pushed to the limit against a much-improved Panther team that did not go down without a fight.

The win was expected from the Bulldogs, but their road to victory was no walk in the park.

“I’m really proud of the team, it has been an honor to coach them this season,” said Panther coach Brian Matanane. “They have exceeded my expectations, they put out their best performance.”

The Panther faithful cheered as they stunned the Bulldogs in the first set, taking a 14-11 advantage. Henry Haight and Donovan Johnson-Coleman were flawless in the opening set with Haight notching two kills and a block and Johnson-Coleman getting a pair of blocks in the middle.

“The guys in middle had big blocks and we didn’t expect that. They really caught us off-guard,” said Okkodo’s second team all-islander Gary Aromin. Aromin’s defense and good passes helped the Bulldogs in their comeback to force a deuce at 24-all.

The Panthers were unable to get a side out and surrendered the first set after two unforced errors. A very relieved Bulldog team huddled after the first set and knew they were in for a battle in order to get to the next round.

The Bulldogs came out strong in the second set and held on to an early three point lead. Kin Edusada kept the Panthers within striking distance with three kills to cut the Bulldog lead to 12-15. The Bulldogs went on a 4-1 run with setter Rai Santos finding Brian Crowe and Aromin to take a comfortable seven point lead.

The Panthers clawed back and got kills from Haight and Leon Bamba to force the Bulldogs to call a timeout.

The Bulldogs’ Ian Ilagas came up big after the timeout to close out the second set on a 6-2 run with two kills for the close 25-20 victory.

image001In the third set, first-team all-islander Aiden Ferrera helped the Bulldogs to an eight-point lead with four kills. The Bulldogs held on for the straight set win and a 25-20 close out victory. Crowe had the final kill of the game.

“We came out really sloppy, but thankfully we regrouped ourselves. They came to play; they weren’t the team we played previously (in the regular season) and I give them a lot of credit for that,” said Ferrera who led the Bulldogs with 8 kills.

“We learned not to take any team lightly no matter what their rankings may be. We have to bring our A-game every time,” said Aromin.

Edusada had 7 kills for the Panthers. Ilagas, who was also voted as a first-team all-islander, had 7 kills for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs will wait to for the winner of the FD vs JFK winner for a semi-final showdown.

Due to Prom nights on Saturday evening, there will be three games on Tuesday with the Southern Dolphins (6th seed) taking on the Harvest Eagles (3rd seed), the Father Duenas Friars (5th seed) taking on the JFK Islanders (4th seed) and the ND Royals (7th seed) taking on the GW Geckos (2nd seed).

The lower seed is the home team and all games start at 6pm in a best-of-five set playoff format.

PHOTO GALLERY:

DSC_2603

Bulldogs Aiden Ferrara dives to save a ball. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo Aiden Ferrera hits a cross court shot that would find the line for the kill. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo Aiden Ferrera hits a cross court shot that would find the line for the kill. (photo by Joey Blas)

Bulldogs Brian Crowe goes up for the monster kill in the third and final set against Panthers. (photo by Joey Blas)

Bulldogs Brian Crowe goes up for the monster kill in the third and final set against Panthers. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Kin Edusada makes a nice save in the back court to keep the rally going for the Panthers. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Kin Edusada makes a nice save in the back court to keep the rally going for the Panthers. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodos Ian Ilagas goes up for the kill against Guam High in the first set. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodos Ian Ilagas goes up for the kill against Guam High in the first set. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs blockers go up and make a nice defensive stuff at the net for the side out. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs blockers go up and make a nice defensive stuff at the net for the side out. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Nathan Loya serves in the second set against Okkodo. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Nathan Loya serves in the second set against Okkodo. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Henry Haight gets a shot by two defenders for the kill in the first set. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam Highs Henry Haight gets a shot by two defenders for the kill in the first set. (photo by Joey Blas)

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