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TITANS FINISH REGULAR SEASON IN DRIVER’S SEAT

Malana shines again for uber talented Titans

By Nick Akimoto

The Tiyan Titans secured a Senior Night victory and a first place finish in the 2023 ISA Boys Volleyball League with a 4-set win over the GW Geckos (28-30, 25-16, 25-22, 25-19). After losing an exciting opening set, the Titans tightened up to grab the next three. 

Gerald Malana was practically levitating on his home court, registering a ludicrous stat line of 22 kills, seven aces and two blocks on his senior night. 

“Honestly, it feels so amazing. Time went by so fast. I’m gonna miss this moment, but I got better things out there.”

– Tiyan senior hitter Gerald Malana
Wendy’s Player of the Game: Gerald Malana finished the game with 22 kills and seven aces for the Titans as they claim the first seed in the ISA boys volleyball league.

The Titans finish with an 11-1 season due to a forfeit to Southern High but own the top seed in the playoffs. The Geckos remain at the four seed with a 6-5 record. 

1st set 

Despite the difference in record between the two teams, GW did not shy away from the defending champs. Zuriel Joker led the opening charge for the Geckos, producing five kills and three aces to get the rest of the team going. Setter Carlos Montejo made sure that Kaden Apiag and Daniel Dela Rosa rose up for the Geckos as well, as Montejo helped them bring in a combined seven kills in the first set. 

The Titans found themselves in an unfamiliar position, as they were forced to match GW’s tempo. Looking for ways to get things going, the Titans began to feed Malana the ball. 

“That’s not the game plan. Just because I’m a big hitter doesn’t mean that I can be selfish. I just perform the best I can,” admitted Malana. Malana recorded 11 kills and two blocks in the first set alone, but GW was able to steal the first set on Tiyan’s home court. 

2nd Set 

After losing the first set of senior night, the Titans were determined to even things up. 

After a Malana-heavy first set, setter Tyrone Buekis adjusted to get the rest of Tiyan’s lineup more looks. Beyond Malana, Buekis assisted on kills to five other players and converted a dump to help the Titans even up the match 1-1. 

“We had to dig deep due to the first set. There were a lot of mental challenges there, especially because GW’s such a good team and well-rounded team,” said Buekis. 

Beyond just the offensive adjustment to get more hitters involved, the Titans made defensive adjustments to shore up on their weaker zones on the court and force the Geckos to make offensive errors. 

3rd set

By the third set, the Titans had finally found a groove as Danilo Fajardo and Nathan Aguigui clocked in two kills each, adding to Malana’s three kills. 

Malana also went on a freakish serving streak, scoring four aces with his signature booming jump serve. 

GW had trouble producing through Tiyan’s tenacious defense, but Apiag still found a way to slam in six kills for the Geckos 

4th set 

With a 2-1 lead, the Titans looked to finish out the game in front of their senior night crowd. 

With Buekis orchestrating Tiyan’s hitters, both Malana and Nash Ericsson were able to bring in five kills for the Titans while Skyler Blas registered four. Even Buekis was able to get in on the action, as he recorded a kill himself after a GW passed a gimme over the net in prime position. 

“I believe we needed [to lose] that first set as an eye-opener for us. We were getting slightly complacent, so we needed that loss to motivate us to push forward,” said Tiyan’s outside hitter Nash Ericsson. 

Despite the loss, the Geckos seem to be playoff ready after being able to contend with Tiyan early in the match. They remain at fourth place in the league, and with one game left in their regular season, the Geckos look to improve their seeding before playoffs. 

GW’s JV was able to win over Tiyan in straight sets (25-23, 25-22).

Tiyan High seniors are celebrated after their senior night win over GW. (photo by Cam Santos)

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