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SJI girls capture WVRAA volleyball title, advance to Palaro

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Negros Occidental team represented by St. John’s Institute with coaches Shery Laborte, Jazpher Laborte, Sara Piñero and Radley Abancio*

Negros Occidental, represented by St. John’s Institute, captured the Western Visayas Regional Athletic Association (WVRAA) Elementary Girls Volleyball title on May 6 at the Montalbo Gym in Bacolod City.

In the elimination round the Negros Occidental girls defeated Capiz in their opening game 25-22, 25-27, and then followed up the win with display of mastery over Aklan, 25-11 and 25-16, to top their bracket.

In the crossover knockout semifinals, SJI had a shaky start against Iloilo to face a 12-18 deficit at the start of the first set, but SJI fortunately recovered in time to close out the set at 25-21.

During the next set, Iloilo kept Negros Occidental at bay, building a 12 point lead, until another SJI rally drew the scores closer, to a 5 point difference, but Iloilo closed out the set at 25-18.

In the deciding set, SJI started out hot from the service area and net attacks, to establish a commanding 13-2 lead. Iloilo also fell into a maze of errors as Negros Occidental pulled away at 25-11 to advance to the finals.

In the championship match, team Negros Occidental fell behind early to a pesky and speedy Guimaras team, and were able to overtake Guimaras at 23-21, however, the steady closeout play of the Guimaras girls gave them the set at 25-23.

In the second set, Guimaras took a 5 point lead, but the host province rallied to snatch the set, 25-18.

The final set was a nip and tuck battle, with Guimaras holding a 13-12 lead at the interchange, but Negros Occidental showed their domination in the second half to seal the title with a scoreline of 25-18.

Team Negros Occidental relied on the setting of Rysa Andrea Lobaton, consistency from the service area, with support from the twin tower cousins of Jelleane and Zeianne Laborte who imposed their height advantage and net presence. The superb reception of Thea Beatrice Cagayanan and Monique Bianca Sy, plus timely net play hits by Lexi Solenn Tiu and Miren Dominique Chua also mattered.

Other Team members are Aniela Abrielle Anoche, Rianne Kaitlyn Empedrado, Bianca Jayne Ong, Bianca Kataleya Villanueva, and Adrienne Wong.

Jelleane Laborte was adjudged as Most Valuable Player, Best Open Spiker, and second Best Middle Blocker, Zeianne Laborte grabbed the Best Middle Blocker, Lobatan won Best Setter and Cagayanan was the Best Libero.

The team will advance to the Palarong Pambansa in Cebu City this coming July.*

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