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COUGARS WIN TITLE REMATCH IN SEASON TIP-OFF

The 2017 IIAAG Girls Volleyball season picked up right where it left off last season in a showdown between the Academy Cougars and GW Geckos Tuesday evening. With championship game intensity flowing through the Gecko gym, the visiting Cougars came away with a thrilling three-set victory.

By Blake Watson

It was a dark and thunderous night in Mangilao as the IIAAG Girls Volleyball season opened with a rematch of last year’s finale. The GW Lady Geckos hosted the Academy Cougars, looking for revenge after coming in second to the ‘Mighty’ Cougars in the 2016 championship game.

Though, the Cougars had other plans Tuesday by winning a three-set thriller 25-20, 23-25, 25-23 in a contest that was treated much like a championship game with the Academy and GW fans roaring louder than Mother Nature was just outside the gym.

The visiting Cougars locked in on offense and played the infamous low ceiling in GW’s gym (which I heard was haunted, by the way) well to take the first set 25-20.

Wendy’s Player of the Game Lauren Hoebing

The Geckos, not able to get things going early on, eventually found their rhythm to strike back in the second set. Senior middle hitter Evita Laguana stepping up for the purple and gold to avoid the sweep. Laguana proved strong at the net, notching a pair of big blocks as the Geckos declawed the Cougars to take the second set 25-23.

In the third and final set, cue last year’s championship game MVP in now senior Lauren Hoebing. Hoebing, turned in quite a night on the floor, registering 10 kills as the young outside hitter helped lift her team to victory in a thrilling final 25-23.

Hoebing attributed heart to the season opening win.

“We put a lot of practice in, and we always talk about having the heart for it. Because we practice that at school, and if you have a heart then everything will go good. And we always pray, prayer helps!”

Cougars stumble, but don’t fall

Three sets decided this game, because of course it did!

Refusing to let the loud and ruckus crowd affect them, the Cougars created distance early with a 3-0 point run. GW hung around as best they could as senior Evita Longuana helped up at the net, shutting down big would-be Cougar points.

The Geckos got even closer late in the set as they were able to close the gap from the service line. Kiyoko Afaisen hit a two-point hot streak to pull her team to within one, but the Cougars refused to be shaken by the Geckos defense as they hung on to win the thrilling season debut in three straight sets 25-20, 23-25, and 25-23.

The Lady Geckos will get a chance at redemption, as they will play Notre Dame Friday night. Meanwhile, the Cougars will have Friday night off, and host Southern High on Saturday.

OTHER GAMES

Notre Dame def. Harvest in 2 sets

St. Paul def. Tiyan in 2 sets

Okkodo def. Sanchez in 3 sets

Southern def Guam High in 2 sets

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