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COUGARS TAKE DOWN BULLDOGS IN TWO

The Academy Cougars spoiled senior night for the Okkodo Bulldogs Tuesday evening in two set fashion 25-14, 25-20 during their first meeting in the 2015 season.

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By Robert Balajadia

The Academy Cougars spoiled senior night for the Okkodo Bulldogs Tuesday evening, winning in two set fashion 25-14, 25-20 during their first meeting in the 2015 season.

It was a busy work day in the back row for Cougar libero Devan San Nicolas, who the Bulldogs repeatedly went after in both sets. San Nicolas didn’t give the Bulldogs much offensive leverage after working the ball to her All-Island setter Mya Sanchez, who set up the Cougars dangerous hitters.

“I felt they underestimated our team a little since they took GW to three sets and we lost to the Geckos in two, but we believed in our hard work and we executed it through the entire game,” said San Nicolas on the high productivity.

After winning the first set convincingly with strong play from Joie Blas and Renee Finona, Academy made their rotations in the second set. Blas and Finona registered three kills each in the opening set.

In the rotation was Cougar sophomore spark plug Lauren Hoebing, who registered four kills in closing set to fend off the fighting Bulldogs.

Hoebing stretched out her first kill within the first five points, and then one later in the set to give the Cougars a 13-11 lead. The kill ended a 5-1 run by the Bulldogs, giving Academy back momentum.

“Someone on the team has to take a stand and provide a spark and I feel it’s my responsibility to  sometimes pick the team back up when we’re down,” said Hoebing on how she plays her role.

She was then given a perfect pass on the outside from Sanchez to attack the back row of the Bulldogs for a 16-13 lead.

Blas then checked back into game where she hammered away two free balls off a volley to take a 21-16 advantage. Determined to please their home fans, the Bulldogs shaved off two quick points after the Cougars overshot their kill attempts to get within 21-18, along with a kill from middle blocker Sirena Cepeda.

A big block by middle blocker Cassandra Chang ignited the Cougar crowd to a 23-18 lead, setting up Hoebing for the final say two points later. Hoebing took a pass from Sanchez through the middle and found a empty spot in the Bulldog defense for the match point kill.

Wendy's Players of the Game, Lauren Hoebing (left) and Devan San Nicolas (right).  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Players of the Game, Lauren Hoebing (left) and Devan San Nicolas (right). (photo by Daniel Paran)

With Sanchez controlling all the air traffic, the Cougars hitters have benefited greatly. Hoebing’s big hits are a product of personal skill and craft, but she didn’t hold back on boasting about her setter Sanchez.

“It’s awesome having a setter like her, she’s the best setter out there. She does so much to help us out on the floor,” said Hoebing.

Academy played a clean set committing less than two errors in the first set, but coughed up five in the second, along with three service errors. Polishing up the errors is a job San Nicolas says that the Cougars work tirelessly at and coming together in the second set was a product of their commitment level.

“We’re all about staying focused and keeping each other motivated to keep our energy level up. We believe in being one team and we always aim to help each other on the court,” San Nicolas added.

Other Scores

ND def. St. Paul 25-18, 25-21
Sanchez def. Guam High in two sets

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Danielle Robles stands ready for the ball and sets it up for a play.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Danielle Robles stands ready for the ball and sets it up for a play. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Jachelle Saludo knocks the ball over early to catch the Cougars' defense off guard.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Jachelle Saludo knocks the ball over early to catch the Cougars’ defense off guard. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Roey Pangelinan makes a close save and keeps the rally going for Okkodo.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Roey Pangelinan makes a close save and keeps the rally going for Okkodo. (photo by Daniel Paran)

The Bulldogs' Caren Mesias spikes the ball, but gets blocked by Cassandra Chang of the Cougars.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

The Bulldogs’ Caren Mesias spikes the ball, but gets blocked by Cassandra Chang of the Cougars. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Lauren Hoebing soars up for the kill shot, earning a point for the Cougars.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Lauren Hoebing soars up for the kill shot, earning a point for the Cougars. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Academy's Renee Finona sends the ball flying as Sirena Cepeda of Okkodo attempts to block it.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Academy’s Renee Finona sends the ball flying as Sirena Cepeda of Okkodo attempts to block it. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mya Jade Sanchez starts things off with the first serve of the game.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mya Jade Sanchez starts things off with the first serve of the game. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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