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GECKOS TURN TIDE ON EAGLES HOT START

The GW Geckos dropped the first set, but rallied to take the next three to close out the Harvest Eagles on their way to the IIAAG Volleyball Finals against the Okkodo Bulldogs at the FD Phoenix Center Thursday night.

By Robert Balajadia

After one set of heart pounding action, the Harvest Eagles were primed to pull off a semifinals upset over the home team GW Geckos. Instead, the Geckos rode the waves of their MVP Allen ‘Arm Cannon’ Camacho to take the second set, and blockers Mat Soto and Devin San Augustin in the latter sets to upstage the Eagles in four sets 22-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-12.

“I just had to bring everyone back in and get them back to basics,” said Geckos head coach Ryan Balajadia on the first set loss. “I was experimenting with positioning in the first set. I know it’s a little late to try and do stuff like that, and when that didn’t really work I just want back to how we eventually started. I know we’re good team, and I wanted to show that we can comeback from a deficit. We weren’t going to just roll over and let a team beat us.”

Mathew Soto sends a spike through the open block of Ben Wiegand.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Mathew Soto sends a spike through the open block of Ben Wiegand. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Camacho wasn’t about to let his team trail 2-0 in sets, but he and the boys had to overcome a 3-0 hole with the Eagles still high on the momentous first set victory. Soto quickly gave the Geckos the lead 4-3 with a kill up the middle, but the Eagles fought back with big block from #11 to reclaim a 5-4 advantage.

“Coach always says to give it to who’s hot and it just happened to be me that set,” said Camacho in his 2nd set heroics.

GW managed to squeeze in 9-7 lead before lighting the fuse for the ‘Arm Cannon’ to go off. Camacho unloaded on back-to-back kills, picking on Eagles setter Marlon Evans (the 2014 IIAAG MVP) with each pulsating shot. Camacho notched his 8th kill from the left of the net, slamming forth an unblock able ball to give GW an 11-7 lead.

Eagles Kobe Sotelo provided a brief spark with back-to-back kills to trim a large Gecko lead 18-14, but it was short lived as GW found their footing with Camacho once again attacking Evans for a 22-14 advantage.

Camacho would go on to knock home the Geckos final two kills to take the set 25-16. As for targeting the 2014 MVP, there was a little motivation in all of the ‘Arm Cannon’s’ swings.

“It just hurt a little when I didn’t bring home MVP last year,” said Camacho on the matter.

Anyone’s Volley

The Eagles made defensive adjustments having two blockers shadow Camacho nearly every set, which allowed Harvest to take a 17-14 mid-set lead. GW was forced to find offense elsewhere and after an adjustment by Geckos coach Ryan Balajadia, Soto become the main point of attack.

Soto got two good looks which ended in two straight kills to pull GW within 17-16. Eagles Ben Wiegand stuffed an attempt from Soto, but Soto came right back to tie the game at 18. Soto then got his hand in on a great shot from setter Christopher Suarez to go up 20-19.

San Augustin got two hands on a shot from Sotelo to grab a 21-19 lead. Errors hurt the Eagles down the stretch of each set after committing three straight to lose the 3rd set 25-21.

The 4th set was all the home team Geckos.

Two straight errors by the Eagles and two kills by Soto had the Geckos up 10-4 after an Eagles early timeout. Soto and San Augustin delivered body blows with sidesplitting kills to give GW a 15-7 lead.

The Eagles fans tried to rally their boys for one final comeback, but four errors in the final seven serves had put the Harvest hopeful and out.

Brandon McAuslen of the Eagles blasts a spike through a Geckos block.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Brandon McAuslen of the Eagles blasts a spike through a Geckos block. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Early Season Rematch

The GW Geckos finished the entire season 11-1. Their only loss came in week 1 against the defending champs, but the Geckos believe they are a much different team, and that they are ready.

“I think we’re there, it’s just a matter of the boys not being overly excited and anxious to play. It’s going to be really good game against the Bulldogs. The Eagles were a tough team, they did their homework. Their coach did their homework. I really feel like it came down to home-court advantage,” added Balajadia.

The finals will be played at the FD Phoenix Center Thursday at 7 pm and the only home-advantage any team will have is who will bring the bigger crowd.

Other Scores

Bulldogs def. JFK in the other semifinals.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Devin San Agustin smashes a spike down to the Eagles court side.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Devin San Agustin smashes a spike down to the Eagles court side. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Sean Evans blasts a spike through the block of Mathew Soto and Nathaniel Gaitan.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Sean Evans blasts a spike through the block of Mathew Soto and Nathaniel Gaitan. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Sean Evans of the Eagles sends a spike down the line.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Sean Evans of the Eagles sends a spike down the line. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Devin San Agustin and Allen Camacho double block on Brandon McAuslen.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Devin San Agustin and Allen Camacho double block on Brandon McAuslen. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Devin San Agustin of the Geckos gets the block on Alex Wu.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Devin San Agustin of the Geckos gets the block on Alex Wu. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Allen Camacho crushes a spike around the Eagles double block attempt.  (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

Allen Camacho crushes a spike around the Eagles double block attempt. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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DID U KNOW?

Four of the six starters on the 2020 Middle School Volleyball Champion Untalan Wildcats met for the first time since winning a title together as the Tiyan Titans took on the Okkodo Bulldogs in the first game of the ISA Boys Volleyball Season. (#7 Samuel Carino, #9 Lance Mupas, #15 Nicholas Santos, #17 Nash Ericsson)

COMING SOON …

FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers

June 16: Guam vs Hong Kong

June 18: Hong Kong vs. Guam

UFC Fights

June 13: Frank Camacho vs. Matt Frevola

June 20: Roque Martinez vs. Josh Parisian

July 25: Trevin Jones vs. Tony Kelley

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