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TWO CHAMPIONS TO BE CROWNED TUESDAY NIGHT

Both championship games on the same night

By Patrick Lujan

Two league champions will be crowned Tuesday night as the ISA and IIAAG boys high school volleyball leagues host their 2024 championship games.

The winners will then play in the GSPN Champion vs. Champion game on Sunday at the JFK gym at 6 pm.

The top-ranked teams – GW Geckos (ISA) and FD Friars (IIAAG) – are heavy favorites in a Monday poll as both garnered over 70% of fan votes to win it all.

Both their opponents – Guam Adventist Academy Angels (ISA) and Harvest Eagles (IIAAG) – were third seeded, upsetting the 2-seed in the semifinals.

ISA: GW vs. GAA @ UOG Field House (7:30 pm)

IIAAG: FD vs. Harvest @ St. John’s (7 pm)

ISA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

The Geckos are clear cut favorites over the GAA Angels behind MVP-favorite Kaden Apiag. The senior has been an absolute beast while carrying GW to an 11-1 record, losing only to the Sanchez Sharks.

“(Kaden) is our primary offensive player, we can rely on him to get side outs when we need them,” GW head coach Mike Dausen said.

Coach Dausen will rely on team captain and libero Leiland Gumabon to control the tempo, especially on defense. Setter Ryan William will be feeding mostly Apiag, but he also has outside hitters Zuriel Joker and Edwin Leon Guerrero at his disposal if the opposing team somehow manages to keep Apiag at bay.

“It’ll be a physical and mental battle both against the Angels and ourselves,” the 2nd-year coach added. “The Geckos are ready to face any challenge the Angels will bring. I always tell the boys to start strong, play strong, and end strong, and if we’re able to do just that, then we can bring the gold to GW this season.”

If they come away as victors, it will add to their boys basketball league championship. The last GW championship was in 2013.

The Cinderella Angels are flying in unchartered territory, never before advancing to a championship game and never beating the Geckos in school history.

If GAA pulls off the improbable upset, it would be in line for Story of the Year! Heck, they have 34 students compared to GW’s enrollment of over 1300.

In order to do that, the Angels will be relying on their two best hitters, Kana Sgambelluri and Samuel Jung, who play opposite each other. They both depend on sophomore setter Gabriel Duenas, who is both quick and effective in orchestrating their attack.

The team has had a varsity squad for only three years, coming in last place in 2022 and second-to-last in 2023.

The jump from that to the championship game under first-year coach Daniel Oh is simply remarkable.

The Angels didn’t progress overnight. It’s been a lot of hard work.

“Earlier in the season, the more inexperienced players did not understand how to respond to high pressure moments,” GAA coach Oh said. “We improved dramatically during the season. Joshua Elidok, our sophomore middle hitter, is new to the position and during the season has grown tremendously in his skills and confidence level.”

GAA lost both regular season games to GW in four sets. In order to overcome one last, big obstacle, the Angels will stress on the importance of reducing errors, especially in the service game while remaining both smart and aggressive, according to Coach Oh.

IIAAG CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

The FD dynasty looks to continue its dominance, looking for their 7th championship in a row against long-time rival Harvest.

The Friars got off to a slow start in the season, falling victims to the Notre Dame Royals at the onset of the season, but they’ve been rolling since.

Quiet and steady head coach Steve Pangelinan always has a load of talent on his roster and this year is no different. Middle blockers Joe Mafnas and Noah Cruz are the Friars’ net enforcers while Hoben Barcinas and Daniel Del Carmen can drill a dart or two from the outside. Steffen Surban controls the flow with his smooth sets.

“It comes down to balancing out playing aggressively, with being disciplined about it. If we can find that balance, we’ll have a good match,” Coach Pangelinan confidently said.

Though it’s a star-studded starting lineup, Pangelinan knows he has the luxury of a talented bench that he can call upon, if needed.

“All my players are key players in achieving the end result. And they all know, that if any of the starters aren’t delivering during the game, there are 1 or 2 more boys behind him that are ready to take his place.”

The Friars will face their biggest volleyball nemesis in recent years once again in the Eagles.

Harvest has had a solid boys program since the Coach Kevin Inafuku era. His long-time assistant, Brandon Pegarido, has been at the helm for the last seven years (15 years total) and the program has not skipped a beat.

The big, bad problem has always been the Friars. A mountain the Eagles have a tough time overcoming.

Harvest dropped both regular season matches to FD and ND, but a huge straight-set win over the Royals in the semifinals could be just the ingredient to boost the Eagles to the title.

Devin Paulin, Jack Keith and Tai Castro came up big in the semis and will need another huge big-stage performance to overcome the FD artillery.

“I always tell the team that we win as a team, we lose as a team, and we will always rise up as a team. Every year each team leaves a legacy behind, and each team needs to find their own unique strengths,” said Coach Pegarido, who was part of the first-ever boys varsity team at Harvest in 2004.

The Eagles had to overcome a slew of injuries this season and it was players like Caleb Judicpa who stepped up for Coach Pegarido and the team to help the squad stay in title contention.

“The only way we will win the championship is with everyone embracing their role on the team and playing as a unit. This is so easy to say, but very difficult to learn in such a short season.”

CHAMPION V CHAMPION

Both champions will move on to the 2024 GSPN Boys High School Volleyball Champion vs. Champion showdown on Sunday, May 19 at the JFK Gym.

The festivities will start at 4 pm with the junior varsity champions facing off: Sanchez Sharks vs. the FD Friars.

The varsity championship match is slated for 6 pm and will be broadcast live on www.guamsportsnetwork.com!

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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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