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LAST night's IIAAG High School Boys Volleyball action at the Notre Dame gym was filled with excitement and intensity.
In a varsity-only match, the Royals played host to the visiting Simon Sanchez Sharks. Both teams pushed each other to the limit in a match that could have gone either way. Needing three sets to declare a winner, the Royals barely got by the Sharks with a 24-26, 25-19, 26-24 victory.
With the match equalized at one set apiece, it was no secret that both teams were going to lay everything out on the court. Early in the final set, the Royals ran into some trouble and committed costly errors that gave the Sharks a quick 7-2 lead. Notre Dame finally settled after an early timeout called and was able to narrow the gap to 10-9.
Midway through the set, both teams found themselves knotted at 13-13. It was from that point on that the Royals looked zoned-in and ready to take over.
Led by the serving of Mark Blas, Notre Dame built a 21-14 lead. Blas served up five aces in the surge.
Simon Sanchez realized that their opportunities were slipping away and was able to narrow the gap to 21-19 backed by two aces and a kill by Rafael Sablan. Several plays later, the Royals set up match point after a kill by Jared Meno. But a relentless Sharks squad refused to let in and scored five unanswered points to tie the game at 24-24. Stanley Rice led the mini-comeback, rallying for three kills.
No more chances
Notre Dame's Kevin Tainatongo would take no more chances and pounded a thundering kill to give ND another chance at match point. On the ensuing play, Meno found a gap in the Shark defense and placed a tip to end the game.
"We settled too early and we allowed a good Sharks team to get back into the game," Meno said. "It was a relief to end the set to win the game. Kevin's kill was the key and it started with a good pass."
First-set action witnessed a lot of seesaw action as the two teams traded points. With the score tied at 24-24, an error by the Royals followed by an ace from Christian Delfin gave Simon Sanchez a one-set edge.
Notre Dame regrouped in the second set and was able to stave off the Sharks. The trio of Austin Tenorio, Meno, and Tainatongo recorded a combined 16 kills. ND setter Blas was credited with 14 assists on their way to clinching the second set.
"Sanchez is a very good team and they played real tough," Tainatongo said.