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ROYALS LOCK IN 2ND SEED SPOT HEADING INTO PLAYOFFS

Notre Dame makes epic comeback to take down Harvest Eagles in five

By Carmen Gogue

In the final day of regular season play for the IIAAG Boys Volleyball season, the Notre Dame Royals delivered an epic comeback effort after a two sets to none deficit defeating the home team Harvest Eagles in five sets 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 16-14 Friday night to secure the second seed spot heading into the playoffs.

Senior Masato Rabago made an impression once again coming up big with a game-high 18 kills to spearhead the Royals.

Rabago expresses his thoughts on tonight’s win and moving forward to the upcoming playoff rounds “It feels good that we secured a game at home for playoffs, but it feels even better that we were able to climb out of the hole we dug ourselves in tonight”.

Leading the Eagles offense was Devin Paulin with 15 kills and teammate Jack Keith close behind at 11 kills.

Game Flow

With a jam-packed Eagles gym, both teams stepped onto the court for the first set with a mission to win going head-to-head for points. For the Royals, it was middle blocker Timothy Gumataotao and outside hitter Caleb Pereda providing offensive production to get their team going early. As for Harvest, they began to combat the Royals with kills from Paulin, Keith, and middle blocker Tai Castro causing the lead to change hands multiple times knotting up to deuce 24-24. Continuing to exchange points, the Eagles managed to slip away with the set at 27-25.

Opening up the second set became a battle of the best servers with each team struggling to get the ball in the first few points. Still sharing possessions, it was Harvest who gained short leads with Keith and Jacob Lujan starting to find their shots. Further in the set, the Eagles experienced mistakes that allowed ND to tie the set at 19-19. Unfortunately, three back-to-back ND errors put Harvest up 22-19.

The Royals did as best they could to stay on pace gaining two points but a kill from Paulin and another from Keith put Harvest at set point 24-21. An Eagle hitting error and an ace from Pereda gave the Royals a slither of hope until Keith shot up for a huge kill on the outside in the next play to end the second set 25-23.

Similar to the first two sets, toe to toe action was seen from both sides of the court. Though getting tough kills from David Thompson, Castro, and Paulin, the Eagles were swamped with more errors than their opponent boosting the confidence of the Royals as their entire attack force achieved kills to lead 18-17. Paulin and Rabago led each of their teams to a 22 all tie as they went back and forth for kills when Rabago nailed one to put the Royals at 24-23 and with a harvest hitting error the set was theirs at 25-23.

Head coach Mike Rabago said “We lost at home two years ago in the semi-finals and I told the boys get one set at a time. Our goal was to ensure we stay at second place going into playoffs”.

The Royals came out swinging in the fourth set jumping to a 4-1 lead with kills from Pereda and back-to-back kills from Rabago. Keeping the errors to a minimum, ND got the advantage early. Rico Taitague subbed in immediately flying in for a huge kill to spark up the fire for Rabago and Gumataotao for a 16-11 lead. More Royal kills from Piper, Taitague, and Rabago forced errors on the Eagles side to easily take the fourth set 25-21.

In the final set, it always comes down to the battle of the fittest. The Eagles and Royals proved to be in prime shape as they continued to be neck and neck with points fighting for the lead. Three aces from Peredo put the Royals up 12-9. A couple kills from Rabago led to a 14-11 lead but Harvest was able to catch up tying 14-14. In grand fashion, Rabago ended the fifth set with two consecutive kills and a celebratory finish for his team and coaches.

“We stuck to our plan and although we fluctuated a lot throughout the game we did our best to stick and trust the game plan given to us.”

– ND’s Masato Rabago

Varsity Stats

Notre Dame

Kills: 48 (Rabago 18, Gumataotao 9, Piper 8, Pereda 7, Peredo 4, Soriano 2) 

Aces: 5 (Peredo 3, Pereda 2) 

Blocks: 2 Soriano

Harvest

Kills: 47 (Paulin 15, Keith 11, Lujan 8, Thompson 6, Castro 5, Judicpa 2)

 Aces: 6 (Keith 2, Lujan 2, Castro 2)

 Blocks: 3 Thompson

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COMING SOON …

4th Quarter Post Season

Boys Volleyball Champion v Champion on May 19

QUICK HITS

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.
—————————————–
Sad News: Guam’s basketball community received word that long-time coach Gerrard ‘Gerry’ Barnes succumbed to cancer and passed away on May 7. 
Coach Barnes led the heralded Andersen Bombers from the 1980’s until recent years.
He also coached the Guam national team and at Simon Sanchez.
Coach Barnes was 73.

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