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BULLDOGS REMAIN UNBEATEN OVER PANTHERS

The Okkodo Bulldogs remain atop the leagues standings, sitting at a perfect 7-0 this far in the season with a win tonight against the Guam High Panthers. The Bulldogs clawed their way to a win, defeating the Panthers in straight sets (25-11, 25-18) this Friday night at the Okkodo Gym.

By John Baza

The Okkodo Bulldogs remain atop the leagues standings, sitting at a perfect 7-0 this far in the season with a win Friday against the Guam High Panthers. The Bulldogs clawed their way to a win, defeating the Panthers in straight sets (25-11, 25-18) this Friday night at the Okkodo Gym.

“We knew they were a big team so we wanted to play this game with speed so we could pull up the middles and play the wings”, replied the Bulldogs setter Rai Santos on the focus for tonight’s game.

Santos was instrumental in the win, dishing out precise sets and pestering the Panthers defense as he constantly found holes and dumped the ball over.

“(Being undefeated) is not really a big thing for us, we just have to play how we always play in every game and try to make it to the playoffs then see how it goes from there”, replied Santos and his teams progress this far in the season.

First Set

Setting the bar high, the home team Bulldogs jumped to a 5-1 lead. But looking to prevent the lead from getting too out of reach, the Panther’s Henry Haight was able to record a block to keep his team in it (7-2).

The Bulldogs’ Gary Aromin kept the attack coming despite getting blocked as he was able to recover and send a strong hit to the back row to extend the lead 9-2.

A couple plays later, Okkodo setter Rai Santos hit Aromin with a set that he sent right through the Panthers’ blockers for the point (11-3).

Santos would go on to extend his team’s lead with a four-point run off of serves (15-3), but despite the Bulldogs’ relentless attack, the Panthers’ middle blockers Haight and Vyren Escalona contested every hit, getting a touch on nearly every attempt.

Trailing 20-8, Guam High’s Haight got a double play as he recorded a kill off a quick set and a block on the ensuing play to cut the deficit.

But Okkodo would go on to outscore the Panthers in the final few possessions to win the set (25-11).

Second Set

The Panthers’ Kin Edusada recorded the first kill of the set, delivering a hit that flew right off the blockers hands.

The beginning of the set saw several lead changes as the Bulldogs’ Ian Ilagas and the Panthers’ Hunter Yatar came out firing in an effort to help their teams breakaway.

Ilagas and Yatar would go on to trade kills, before the Yatar sent in a hit that found the backrow and gave the Panthers the (7-6) advantage. But the Bulldog’s Ferrara found a hole in the defense after the rally to tie the game 7-all.

The changing point in the set came after two straight Guam High errors, as the Bulldogs went up (9-7). An ace from Ilagas extended Okkodo’s lead (13-8) and forced a timeout.

The Bulldog’s Aromin kept the attack rolling as he sent in a kill from the back row (17-11) but the Panthers’ Yatar sparked a run of his own, contributing a kill and serves to close the gap (17-14).

With the Bulldogs slowly pulling away (18-16), the Panthers saw some hope as Okkodo’s errors provided them with an opportunity to reclaim the lead, but they were unable to capitalize.

Despite a brave effort to force a third set by the Panthers, the visiting team fell short in the final few possessions as the Bulldogs’ heavy hitters, Ferrara and Aromin, sent in hits that just couldn’t be returned, closing out the second set (25-18) and giving the home team their seventh straight win on their quest to repeat as champions.

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