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ISLANDERS BEAT FRIARS IN CLOSE SETS

The JFK Islanders proved Tuesday that they belong among the IIAAG boys volleyball league’s best with a close win over the FD Friars in straight sets.

By Mike Nauta Jr.

With playoffs set to begin in a little over a week, teams in the IIAAG High School Boys Volleyball League are putting forth their best efforts in hopes of securing a playoff spot. On Tuesday night, two of the league’s top teams battled one another in a game that could’ve went either way.

At the Phoenix Center in Mangilao the Father Duenas Friars played host to the visiting John F. Kennedy Islanders. The visitors took care of business needing only two sets (25-23, 25-23) to pickup a huge victory.

“We got off to a really slow start and had a hard time picking up rhythm late in both sets,” said JFK’s Chris Conner. “Playing a good team like FD meant we couldn’t take anything for granted and just had to stay tough.”

The Islanders began the game with a huge kill from outside hitter Billy Belger to take a 1-0 lead. Despite a service error on the ensuing play, JFK still managed to build a 4-1 lead. A normally loud Phoenix Center came to a sudden quite as fans from both sides witness both teams create numerous errors. The Friars took an 8-5 lead courtesy of a Leon Shimizu kill combined with six unforced errors by JFK.

Friars Eric Ada has his spike blocked by two Islander defenders. (photo by Jose Perez)

Friars Eric Ada has his spike blocked by two Islander defenders. (photo by Jose Perez)

Midway through the opening set, the Islanders capitalized on four service errors by the Friars combined with three kills from Conner and teammate Wayne Jesus to take a 14-12 lead. JFK continued to roll on their momentum as the Conner-Jesus duo managed to find open spots in the FD defense and eventually gave their team a 19-14 lead. In the final moments of the set, a hitting error by the Islanders allowed the Friars to pull within one (23-22) point.

image001A kill by FD’s Eric Ada equalized the game at 23-23. Looking to regain the lead, the Friars hoped to answer once again offensively. However, it was Conner who found a crack in the FD defense and tipped a nicely placed shot setting up set point. On the next play, JFK’s Jesus tooled the Friars block attempt to record the final point of the set.

“Coach just told us to keep playing hard and stick to our bread and butter which is our defense first,” said Conner.

Second set action began with the two teams tying five different times and changing leads twice. With the score knotted at 7-7, the Islanders sparked an 8-2 rally led by Jesus and Chino Cruz’s four kills combined. The Friars continuously fought hard trying to get back into the game.

Trailing 22-16 late in the set, the Friars pulled within two courtesy of Kole and Eric Ada’s offensive production. A kill by the Islanders’ Ryo Sakane setup match point for JFK. However, FD made things a bit interesting after scoring three more points to pull within (24-23) one. Not willing to go into a third set, JFK turned to Conner who closed out the game with a kill.

“It feels good to close out the game with the winning kill,” said Conner. “Our work is still not done, we still have work to do and a few more games before the regular season is over.”

The Friars return to action Friday as they take on the defending champion Okkodo Bulldogs at the Phoenix Center. The Islanders have a few days off and then return Saturday to battle the St. Paul a Warriors at St. Paul.

Other Scores

Harvest def. St. Paul
Okkodo def. Sanchez
ND def. Guam High 25-20, 16-25, 25-23

PHOTO GALLERY:

Two Islander defenders deny a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Two Islander defenders deny a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Mason Hilario watches a perfect spike land inbounds for a Friar point. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Mason Hilario watches a perfect spike land inbounds for a Friar point. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Jaron Weilbacher was able to block a Friar spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Jaron Weilbacher was able to block a Friar spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Chris Conner  goes for his spike uncontested. (photo by Jose Perez)

Islanders Chris Conner goes for his spike uncontested. (photo by Jose Perez)

Friars Michael Damian get low to save a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Friars Michael Damian get low to save a spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Friars Kole Ada gets up for his cross court spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

Friars Kole Ada gets up for his cross court spike. (photo by Jose Perez)

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