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KNIGHTS ADVANCE TO PLAYOFFS 2ND ROUND

The St. John’s Knights girls volleyball team saved their best performance for the playoffs as they bounced the visiting Sanchez Sharks in three sets to advance to the 2nd round 25-18, 25-18, 25-20.

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By Robert Balajadia

The St. John’s Knights girls volleyball team saved their best performance for the playoffs as they bounced the visiting Sanchez Sharks in three sets to advance to the 2nd round 25-18, 25-18, 25-20.

Knights middle blocker Catherine Chung had nine kills in the contest, including a pair of aces in the 3rd set to close out the Sharks.

After two convincing set victories the Knights found themselves in a rut after falling behind the Sharks early 10-5. A kill from Chung and three kills from setter Hana Fernandez allowed the Knights to fight back into the game to tie the score at 14, part of a 7-0 run to take a 17-14 lead.

The Sharks shaved off the three quick points off Knights errors, but the aces from Chung gave St. John’s enough to finish off the set for the clean sweep.

“We had a lot of teamwork out there today, we brought our ‘A-game’. Communication was on point and I was just able to play my part,” said Chung on her beastly game.

Sanchez took a hit after the first set with their lead hitter Tayler Naputi making an exit with a knee injury. The injury threw off the Sharks in the 2nd set after dropping to a 14-4 deficit. A rally midway through allowed Sanchez to carve into the lead, but the Knights held them down to take the commanding two set lead.

“We didn’t change much on defense, we just played the way we always do,” said Ada-Vibar on the adjustments after Naputi went down. “We played smart today and paid attention to their hitters on defense and we moved on from points that we gave up.”

Knights Gabby Paynter and Sophie Mathews had five and four kills respectively throughout the first and second set.

The game only went three sets, but the Knights were ready to roll in the event a five-set grinder was in store.

“I think we still had a lot of the energy left. We get excited the night before and that just pumps us all up and keeps us going,” added Amaya on the extended sets.

Up next for the Knights is the leagues best ND Royals on Friday. A shocking lost to Harvest is the only blemish on the Royals season, but the Knights are up to the task of taking down ND at home where they have not lost all season.

“We almost beat them when we played them here in the regular season so we’re totally ready. We need to start strong and, if we do, then we have a good chance,” said Amaya.

“We know they’re going to be a lot tougher in the playoffs but we’re up to the challenge,” added Chung.

Wendy's Players of the Game, Catherine Chung (#10) and Amaya Ada-Vibar (#5) of the St. John Knights.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Players of the Game, Catherine Chung (#10) and Amaya Ada-Vibar (#5) of the St. John Knights. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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Tori Starr of the Sharks sends a strong serve towards the Knights.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Tori Starr of the Sharks sends a strong serve towards the Knights. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Sharks' Christina Carlos leaps up and taps the ball over to the side to avoid the Knights' defense.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Sharks’ Christina Carlos leaps up and taps the ball over to the side to avoid the Knights’ defense. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ave Ferreras (#4) and Kameron Delos Santos (#5) make an attempt to save the ball after a blocked shot.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ave Ferreras (#4) and Kameron Delos Santos (#5) make an attempt to save the ball after a blocked shot. (photo by Daniel Paran)

The Knights gather and celebrate after their hard-fought match against the Sharks.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

The Knights gather and celebrate after their hard-fought match against the Sharks. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Catherine Chung of the Knights and Sharks' Angel Mirales meet at the net as they both try to tip the ball over to the other's side.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Catherine Chung of the Knights and Sharks’ Angel Mirales meet at the net as they both try to tip the ball over to the other’s side. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Hana Fernandez at the ready as she sets the ball up for a teammate.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Hana Fernandez at the ready as she sets the ball up for a teammate. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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