The noise from the crowd at the University of Guam Calvo Field House was at a near-deafening level, as the Father Duenas Memorial School Friars volleyball team won their fifth consecutive Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam championship.
Playing against a familiar foe, the Friars defeated the Harvest Christian Academy Eagles Monday in straight sets, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17.
“Hard work pays off,” said FD's Joseph Mafnas.
For Mafnas, a junior, this is his third championship win but feels it is the first time he delivered a complete game.
“In the past championships, I let my boys down so this is a good comeback,” he said.
When one or two Friars step up their games, they are difficult to beat, but five players having career nights proved to be too much for the Eagles. Leading the Friars’ 2023 championship run, Mafnas had a game-high 13 kills, including the match-winner, a blast with a nearly straight-down trajectory that nailed the floor.
“I trusted my center to get it where I needed it, and he trusted me to finish the job,” Mafnas said.
On match point, after receiving an overpass from his setter, Mafnas said that two words popped into his head: “Kill it!”
With ample production from FD and from all spots on the court, the Friars’ David Del Carmen finished with eight kills, Ethan Alvarez had five kills and two blocks, Noah Cruz taped five winners, had three kills and a block, and Gabriel Sarmiento walked away with six kills.
Despite the crowd heavily favoring FD, Harvest came to play. In the first set, Jack Keith had four kills and Brian Xia and Traven Ka'ae each had three point-producing blasts. The Eagles’ effort was strong, but errors cost them the first set.
The opening set was filled with a combination of intense and controlled play. Cruz's game, with four well-placed taps for points to the open court, delivered heads-up play and control.
“At the start of the game, I just tried to be controlled,” Cruz said. “Then, when I got one swing, that's when I started smashing.”
After a short intermission, the Eagles entered on to the court fired up and quickly amassed a 10-3 lead, Keith and Ka'ae leading the charge. But as nerves seemed to take hold of the Eagles, FD caught up and took the set 25-23.
“That first set just means a lot,” Cruz said.
As the maroon and gold remained strong on defense, the third set was all FD. Errors, mishits and miscommunication lead to the Eagles’ demise.
3rd place and GDOE ISA vs. IIAAG
Earlier in the evening, in the third place game, the St. John’s School Knights beat the Notre Dame High School Royals in four sets, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21.
After the conclusion of the IIAAG boys volleyball championship game, football and an interleague, all-island volleyball ball game are all that remains on the 2023 high school calendar. Due to new equipment arriving late, football won't conclude until May 27. On Saturday, in a Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Sports Association vs. IIAAG showdown, the three-time reigning ISA champion Tiyan High School Titans will take on the Friars 7 p.m. at Tiyan.