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GECKOS CROWNED ISA VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONS

GW will face FD in annual GSPN Champion vs Champion game

By Paradis Jolie Fejerang

The ISA ‘24 championship boys volleyball game in the University of Guam Calvo Field House started off strong in favor of the Guam Adventist Academy Angels over the George Washington Geckos. Though GAA kept up their energy despite losing the second and third sets by just two points, it was the fourth and final set of the evening that displayed the Geckos overwhelming dominance through confidence on the court. Set scores: 22-25, 27-25, 27-25, 25-15.

With the Angels seeming to be the cool ones on the court in the beginning, what stood out was that the team seemed more in unison during the first match than they have been the rest of the season. True, GAA’s athletes have taken to the courts this year to show that the close relationships and complete trust in each other are a big part of what has led them to the championship. Still, the game set off in almost a new direction for the Angels as even the Gecko crowd seemed shocked by the plays their adversaries were pulling off. 

The biggest surprise from the Geckos – athletes and supporters alike – grew from the lack of GAA captain Kana Sgambelluri’s supremacy on the court during the first half of the championship. Sgambelluri has been a standout the entire season to the point where the entirety of the field house would wait in anticipation with every approach to the ball the athlete prepares for. In the first couple sets, however, every single Angel got their opportunity to shine. 

With the entire team in a powerful groove, it almost seemed as if Sgambelluri was actively stepping out of his teammate’s way to let them take the swing for the kill. Regardless, the Angels and their supporters were making it clear that they did not come to just give away a game. If the Geckos wanted to win, they would need to work to defeat an entire team and not just one person. 

The first two sets were for the Angels, specifically two Jungs. The underrated duo ruled the court, particularly Samuel Jung in the first set with Joshua Jung taking over in the second. These two were at the top of the game when next to each other in the first row of the GAA rotation, not allowing the GW athletes much time to think as kills kept coming from both the middle and outside hitter positions.

Unfortunately for the Angels, the Geckos kept their cool on the court. Bringing it back in the second set with a steady pace and no fear of falling behind, they started to shake their opponents out of the comfort they collected from their first set win.

As both the second and third sets had gone to GW with the same scores of 27-25, the athletes in purple were sticking to their perfection of basics and capitalizing on every mistake competitors would make. 

Leading the Geckos to the win was senior Kaden Apiag, largely supported by fellow senior Zuriel Joker in kill count for GW’s team. Carrying their crew defensively was Benedict Tabunar as a wall that could not be passed easily by any of GAA’s incredibly strong arms who did their best to break past. 

When it came down to GW being up a set and the game entered into the fourth, the air above the Angels’ side of the court seemed heavy with nerves. It was almost as if the athletes were switched with a completely new set of players as they set up against the settled-in Geckos. 

To make matters worse for the Angels, the Geckos began to pick on the competing setter. Co-captain for GAA, Gabriel Duenas, found himself being the target of continuous receives as he rotated to the back row, leaving strong Angel hitter, S. Jung, to pick up most of the setter’s signature second-touches.

As his team fell in confidence, Sgambelluri stepped back up to the plate as he accepted hit after hit for his team as the small group grew more frustrated and solemn as the Geckos inched closer to 25. Still, Sgambelluri and S. Jung’s power with the top kills of the night was not enough to combat the simple and clean moves the Geckos had perfected as GW ended the night with another ISA championship for the ‘23-’24 school year following their impressive basketball season.

Apiag was gushing about his win after the game, sharing his pride in another win with his team. He shares that he knows their energy was down at the start with sleeplike mistakes and errors causing them to feel slow at the start, but eventually they woke up and the entire team got where they needed to go.

With GAA being such a powerhouse out of nowhere, Apiag was still in awe of his opponents post-match. “Honestly, it was super surprising…their school is really good and they made it to the championship,” Apiag charms about the Angels. “It was fun playing with them, it was an honor to me.”

CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY

Up next for the Geckos is the Champion v. Champion match as they are set to face Father Duenas’ athletes for the ultimate victory, Apiag is still in the zone as if the season is yet to be over. “We’re just going to work hard in practice and keep up what we’re doing.” he shares to push his teammates to keep up the hard work on the court. “[FD is] a really good team…We’ll keep focus for that next game and see what happens then.”

Geckos and Friars LIVE on Sunday at 6 pm at the JFK Gym. That is preceded by the JV champions game between the Sanchez Sharks and FD Friars.

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

10th Micronesian Games from Marjuro

QUICK HITS

Bailey Concepcion makes it to the Seattle Seahawks dance team for the 2nd straight year.

Congratulations @seadancer_bailey
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The St. Paul Warriors are the 2024 IIAAG Boys Middle School Basketball League Champions! The Warriors defeated the 2nd seed Andersen Dragons 60-47 to cap off their undefeated season.
Mario Bork led the Warriors with 20 points in the championship game.

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