📅13 February 2018
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By Jay Leon Guerrero

The IIAAG Boys Middle School Volleyball League just got a little more interesting. The St. John’s Knights were undefeated at 5-0 for the season and looked to increase their chances at clinching a title going against the third place St. Paul Warriors at 4-2.

The Warriors had other plans. There was a significant height advantage in favor of the Knights but the Warriors used good passing and serving to win in three sets 25-16, 26-28 and 15-10.

“I was a little intimidated by their height but I had confidence in our team. We came into the game with a heart over height mentality,” said team captain Jacob Miranda.

Miranda was all over the court as he provided a spark of confidence for his team with heads up plays and kills.

Game sequence

Erren Chen got the first kill of the game for St. John’s as they took an early 2-0 lead. St. Paul serving specialist Logan Ymesei stepped up to the line and delivered two aces in a 5-0 run for the Warriors forcing Knight head coach Arvin Flores to call a timeout.

The Knights battled back to tie the contest 7-7 behind two service aces from Justin Joseph. Miranda helped the Warriors take advantage for good with a pair of kills to take a 23-16 advantage and eventually winning the first set 25-16.

The Knights had their backs against the ropes, trailing 8-4 in the second set as the Warriors looked to put the game away early. Daniel Glasscock was a force in the middle for the Warriors with a block as his team continued their momentum.

The Knights go on a 5-0 run with Andrew Stenson at the service line to take a 9-8 advantage. The two teams went back-and-forth until Chen started a run with a kill and a service ace  to go ahead 22-18. The Warriors dug deep and came back to force a deuce with Kobe Manasala at the service line to tie the game 24-24.

A hitting error by the Knights had the Warriors at match point but a spiking error forced the game back at deuce. There was much tension in the gym as both teams looked to play clean and went back and forth until the Knights took a 27-26 advantage behind a clutch kill from Andrew Leng.  The Knights kept the ball in play and the Warriors committed a costly error as the Knights escaped with a 28-26 thrilling win in the second set.

Final set

The Knights took momentum with them into the third and final set with Kyle Wang serving up two aces to go up 2-0. The Warriors’ Ymesei records a dink and later serves two aces to go ahead 3-2.

Miranda records his fourth kill of the game to start a rally for the Warriors. St Paul goes ahead 10-4 in a decisive run that forces the Knights to call another timeout to regroup.

Leng makes plays for the Knights as they go on a 4-0 run to trail 10-8. Miranda ends the run with a kill and later serves up two difficult serves to the right back row of the Knights go up 13-8.

The game is now 13-10 in favor of the Warriors and the Knights start attacking but the Warrior defense takes over. Miranda makes a diving save and setter Kanta Yamazaki keeps the volley alive with a save with his foot to get the crowd cheering. The Warriors later went ahead with Glasscock making a kill in the middle to set up match point with a 14-10 advantage.

In the final point, the Knights looked to go on the offensive again but a bad pass caused a “free ball” to come to the Warrior’s side of the court. Yamazaki set up Miranda in the back row for the winning kill, giving the Knights their first taste of defeat.

“Going into the final set, our coach told us to not lose focus and trust each other,” said Miranda. “I knew that last point was coming to me. I wanted the kill because it was the final point but at the same time I needed to keep it inbounds.”

The Warriors keep their title hopes alive with a 5-2 record but they need help from the other teams to upset the Knights. St. Francis is 4-1, Bishop is 4-2 and Mount Carmel and Harvest are both 4-3 as the season has a long way to go before the champion is determined. St. John’s holds their own destiny if they win all their matches with a key game against St Francis upcoming.

“This was a good win for our team and helps our confidence for the rest of the season. We were more alive in this game and we hope to keep it going,” said Miranda who had six total kills.

Glasscock had three kills for the Warriors, Ymesei had five aces.  Chen had five kills for the Knights, Leng and Felix Gong had three kills for the Knights.


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