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VISITING UST WINS SUMMER INVITATIONAL

After going through pool play undefeated, the University of Santo Tomas Spikers took on Guam’s Manhoben Hawks in an exciting match that needed four sets to declare a champion. When all was said and done, it was the girls from the Philippines who hoisted the first-place trophy and donned their gold medals.

By Mike Nauta Jr.

On Sunday afternoon, the 2015 Pacific Summer Invitational Volleyball Tournament came to a close with two teams battling for this year’s crown. After going through pool play undefeated, the University of Santo Tomas Spikers took on Guam’s Manhoben Hawks in an exciting match that needed four sets to declare a champion. When all was said and done, it was the girls from the Philippines who hoisted the first-place trophy and donned their gold medals after defeating the Hawks 25-12, 22-25, 25-19, 25-15.

“This was a great experience, especially being able to play against players from another country,” said Hawks captain Sia Duenas. “We played against a very good UST team in the finals and we fell short of clinching a championship, but as a team and individuals we gained a load of experience.”

In the opening set, the Spikers came out firing as they built a commanding 8-1 lead backed by the strong serving of Patricia Ysabel Cenzon. Manhoben found some difficulty getting their offense started as their deficit grew and eventually trailed 13-2. After a called timeout by the Hawks, back-to-back kills by Jojo Cruz and Duenas igniting a short Hawks rally.

UST's Audrey Bolintiam flies in for a spike. (GSPN photo)

UST’s Audrey Bolintiam flies in for a spike. (GSPN photo)

Later in the set, UST responded huge mixing their offense as Cenzon fed her hitters from the middle and outside. The trio of Imee Hernandez, Charlene Rae Bolintiam, and Renee Berdijo went on a hitting and serving spree combining for six kills and four aces to end the set.

After a dismal opening set, Manhoben regrouped in the second as they looked like the top Guam team from pool play. For most of the set, the Hawks turned to Duenas, Cruz, and Alana Fegurgur for some offensive answers. With teammate Samyra Duenas calling the plays, the trio became effective hitters from all parts of the court. While the Spikers managed to keep the game close, the Hawks were able to make a run late in the set. Manhoben managed to turn an 18-16 deficit into a victory after outscoring the Spikers 9-2 to include six combined aces by both Samyra and Sia Duenas.

“We knew what we were capable of doing as a team,” said Hawks co-captain Cruz. “We just had to focus and communicate effectively.”

The Spikers proved too strong in the third and fourth sets and refused to allow the Hawks an opportunity for a fifth and deciding set. Despite the great defense by the Hawks, UST put on a display of strong, precision serving as they disected the Hawks one point at a time. Each time the Hawks tried to spark a rally, Hernandez, Bolintiam, and Berdijo had an answer to put a halt. UST managed to close out the game outscoring the Hawks 50-34 in the third and fourth set.

“Clinching a championship would have allowed us to take home a trophy and that would be nice,” said Cruz. “The bigger picture in the end is a lot of friendships were made and experiences were gained. Congratulations to UST on their win and to LaSalle on their third place finish.”

La Salle Goes The Distance With St. Anthony

The middle school St. Anthony Raiders had a thrilling run in the 2015 tournament, but the visiting La Salle team from the PI got the close win in three sets 26-24, 28-30, 15-10.

The thrilling 2nd set was won by the Raiders after they and La Salle traded point-for-point, surpassing the regulated scoring amount to force the decisive third set.

The length of La Salle proved to be the difference as they managed to stretch a slight lead in the final set to win 3rd place.

The visiting La Salle celebrate after taking the firs set in thrilling fashion. (GSPN photo)

The visiting La Salle celebrate after taking the firs set in thrilling fashion. (GSPN photo)

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