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BULLDOGS SNAP SHARKS UNBEATEN STREAK IN FIVE SETS

Okkodo knocks down Sanchez from unbeaten ranks

By Eriele Salas

The Okkodo Bulldogs made a thrilling comeback Thursday night after dropping their second and third set to the Sanchez Sharks. It was a very close game between the two rivals, and both put on a dramatic show for the crowd of supporters in the ISA Girls Volleyball League pitting the two top teams.

Okkodo’s Sharma Taiuwei, Cherise Conner and Hanna Meinik were instrumental in bringing their team to victory, with scoring a combined total of 25 kills, eight blocks and six aces. The Bulldogs handed the Sharks their first loss of the season in five thrilling sets 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13. 

Sanchez was riding high at 10-0 entering the matchup, while the Bulldogs just suffered a loss to the charging GW Geckos in four sets Tuesday night but still came into the game with a 8-2 mark in second place. That didn’t deter Okkodo’s plans, however, of taking down their northern rivals from the unbeaten ranks.

Rihanna Estoy tries to get the ball back in play as she rolls the ball over Breanna Simina. (photo by Koto Blas)

1st set

Early on, the Bulldogs had a nine-point lead against the Sharks. Okkodo’s Rihanna Estoy kept the rallies going with her consistent defense against Sanchez, which made it hard for them to get many kills. Due to some hitting errors from the Bulldogs, the Sharks caught up with the help from their very own Kayna Kanemoto’s four kills. 

The Sharks were falling far behind, but with an ace each from Reiven Rivera and Katherine Pineda, they worked their way to push up to 22. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, a line violation from Sanchez gave them the set win. 

2nd set

The Sharks played knowing that they needed to win. In the start of the set, they had a 6-0 lead, which would eventually be shot down by Bulldog Meinik’s block. Okkodo slowly started to lack communication and lose their rhythm during the set. This gave the perfect opportunity for Sanchez’s setter, Breanna Simina, to shoot the ball to give her hitters chances to kill. 

Eventually, the Bulldogs caught a lead, but weren’t able to keep it for long. Okkodo’s Shanley Gabutin and libero Haley Cabrera kept the plays on for a while, but still, they found themselves playing catch-up with the Sharks. To tie the set score with the Bulldogs, Kanemoto topped it off with an ace for the Sharks.

3rd set 

With winning still in their minds, both the Sharks and Bulldogs kept fighting until the ball hit the court. The Bulldogs communication on defense wasn’t quite there, which gave Sanchez the upper-hand to score six kills from Kanemoto, Pineda and Erin Clemena. Although the Bulldogs secured five kills in the set, Sanchez’s libero Ginelle Imbuido made it challenging for Okkodo to score any more than that. 

Soon, the Bulldogs defense would improve enough to stray not so far away from the Sharks. Rallies from both sides of the court were thrilling, and it was evident from the roaring crowd. The Sharks wanted to finish strong and did so, winning another set to be in the driver’s seat.

4th set 

Coming onto the court with a second victory, the Sharks kept their defensive and offensive plays consistently, hoping to win in four. Although Okkodo had a pretty rough start trying to find open spots, Estoy and Miranda Thompson ensured the defense was there. In the middle of the match, the Bulldogs were becoming more consistent on the offensive plays as well, which gave them the lead. 

On the set point, a Bulldog destroyed the ball on the Sharks who shanked it out of the court. Because of this, the Bulldogs finally finished off the set with more kills than the Sharks. With the teams tied, both knew it was going to be challenging with all the pressure from the coaches, the teammates, and the crowd. 

5th set 

The Bulldogs went onto the court with winning in their minds and hearts. Okkodo’s Meinik gave them a good 5-0 lead and used it to their advantage. They became more harmonious on offense with five kills total. Meanwhile, the Sharks had too many hitting errors and slowly started to lose their flow. 

The Bulldogs had some errors as well, which gave the Sharks an opportunity to catch up. Sanchez managed to keep up with Okkodo, but thanks to a kill from Okkodo’s Conner, the Bulldogs were victorious in breaking the Sharks 10-0 winning streak. 

Okkodo’s Meinik said that if the team ever gets overwhelmed by the noise of the crowds, they look to their bench of Bulldogs who helps to keep them motivated. “We feel very proud about ourselves and the team. We pushed for this game, we pushed for everything throughout this season,” said Bulldog’s Conner. 

“I believe if we all just work stronger together as a team, we’ll get the championship.”

– Okkodo’s Sharma Taiuwei

Okkodo will be taking on their final game before the semifinals against the Guam Adventist Academy Angels this Saturday in the Bulldogs home at 7 pm. Meanwhile, the Sharks will go against the Tiyan Titans the same day in JFK’s gym at 5:30 pm. 

The semifinals are set for Tuesday with Sanchez, Okkodo, GW and JFK locking up the spots.

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