Team Guam Volleyball took a beating in the opening rounds of the 9th Micronesian Games as all competing countries brought their “A” game against the defending Micronesian Games champions.
The women were able to bounce back from two five- set loses during pool play against Palau and Marshall Islands to dominate both teams in the playoff and the Gold medal match.
It was a whole different atmosphere from the initial open air gymnasium to the enclosed basketball gym the competition moved to for the final games. There was less wind factor and the once tight space made Team Guam look more comfortable.
After a 3-2 pool play record and establishing third seed for the playoffs, Guam’s women got to work against a tough Palau team. However, the intensity and level of play Team Guam had on that day was unmatched. The defense picked up, as they scrambled for every ball in place and racked up points to dominate the team who had beaten them in pool play. The final score that advanced the women to the Gold medal round was 25-22, 25-17, 25-22.
In the Gold Medal match, Team Guam opened each match falling behind the Marshall Islands serves. The first two sets were furious and of high intensity that had the crowd on their heels with lead changes occurring frequently. In both instances, with Guam trailing, our ladies were able to dig deep, take the lead in the wading plays of each set and come out victorious with scores of 25-23 and 26-24. RMI came back with vengeance in the third set, determined to win the battle as they capitalized on numerous service errors by Team Guam. With good team work and strong kills, Marshall Islands controlled the third set on their way to closing the gap 2-1 with a 20-25 tally.
Team Guam fell behind early in the fourth set which looked like a sign of fatigue. However, after a time out called by Coach Mike Rabago down 1-5, the team rallied and begun playing cohesively. Slowly they inched their way to the lead connecting on kills as they took the lead during the first technical time out 8-7. It was all Team Guam thereafter, as they continued to find open areas and force numerous errors on their counterparts along with multiple aces forcing RMI to call time outs until a 16-10 technical time out was reached by Guam. The ending of the game was elementary as Team Guam lit up the scoreboard and raced to the title with a final set of 25-17. With the win, Team Guam women’s volleyball has won four of the last titles.
The men’s team wasn’t as fortunate as the first day witnessed the worst defeat in the last three games falling to Kiribati in straight sets. The three set loss was the most sets lost in the last two Micro Games. Team Guam bounced back as they beat Chuuk, who eventually won the title, in four grueling sets 25-22, 15-25, 27-25, 26-24. The next day they out dueled Yap in five sets 25-23, 15-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12. Fatigue and experience became a factor as they lost back to back matches against Pohnpei and Palau in five sets, all highly and closely contested. The men’s team closed the Games out dismantling a young CNMI team in three sets which took a total of 42 minutes to even their record at three a piece. Unfortunately for our young men’s team, it wasn’t meant to be as they were unable to qualify for the playoffs with Kiribati beating Pohnpei in the deciding match.