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SEMIFINALS: ROYALS DOMINANT IN STRAIGHT SET WIN OVER GECKOS

The ND Royals eliminated the GW Geckos Tuesday evening in the IIAAG Girls Volleyball semifinals.

By Blake Watson

The IIAAG Girls Volleyball playoffs was not short on excitement down south, as the top ranked Notre Dame Royals played host to the GW Geckos. GW looked to lengthen the season and get past the defending champs, but ND had much different plans. The Royals rode their shutdown defense behind Brianne Leon Guerrero, Carlie Quinata and Ella Mae Balajadia to win in straight sets to advance to the championships 25-18, 25-14, 25-12.

ND dominant in three

The home crowd was loud and proud as the Royals were first on the board. The Geckos offense was able to answer back and in a big way. GW jumped out to an early lead as senior Kiyoko Afaisen and sophomore Lyric McGill held down the net, stopping anything ND threw at them.

Royals’ Austia Mendiola did her part as she single-handedly kept the home team in long enough for the offense to find its footing. GW turned to be their own worst enemy as they couldn’t seem to maintain momentum from their early success.

Carlie Quinata was all over the the outside not allowing anything from GW. Notre Dame found holes in the defense and snuck past the Geckos on the board to take the lead 13-10 halfway through eh first set.

Quinata wasn’t just huge up front, but also turned in an ace to dominate the first set 25-18. Notre Dame was able to resume right where they left off from the first set. Royals cruised to an 8-1 lead before GW was able to get anything going. The Geckos couldn’t find any rhythm on offense as the front three for ND were all over the net.

Any weakness in the Geckos defense, ND found to win a crucial second set 25-14.

The third and final set proved to be the closest and most exciting. McGill and Afaisen finally found their groove as the pair put in work, pushing back anything ND served up at the net. The Royals struggled to get offensive contributions, as the front line were busy just trying to block.

Brianne Leon Guerrero used ‘less power and more placement’ when she finally had an opportunity. The Gecko defense, though tough, couldn’t hold the eventual scoring storm from Leon Guerrero, and Quinata. The hitters from ND combined for the team’s final points to close out the third set and advance 25-12.

ND will put their winning streak on the line as they will face the St. John Knights for the championship at the UOG Calvo Field House Thursday night.

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QUICK HITS

Shawn Bamba won the Arizona state wrestling championship while siblings Jussiah and Justyn took third place in their divisions at state.
Shawn (12th) won the 150-lb division while Jussiah (11th) took bronze in the 120-lb class and Justyn (9th) took bronze in the 106-lb category.
All three were born on Guam before moving to Surprise, Arizona in 2014, where they all picked up wrestling in 2016.
Their parents are Justin and Shannon Bamba from Pago Bay.
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Christian Delos Santos, son of Richard Delos Santos (Barrigada) and Norma Larimer Delos Santos (Dededo), won the Kentucky High School Athletic Association wrestling state championship in the 113-lb weight class.
His sister Naiya took 3rd place in the 100-lb girls division.

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