CALIFORNIA Academy bagged the inaugural Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL), thwarting Naga College Foundation with a 25-18, 18-25, 25-14, 25-19 win on Saturday night at San Andres Gym in Malate, Manila.
Jelaica Gajero, the Best Opposite Spiker, fired 18 points as Most Valuable Player Casiey Dongallo hammered 17 to prove an unstoppable duo in the perfect championship run of the Antipolo City-based squad.
Jenalyn Umayam added 13 more points for California Academy, which completed a 5-0 sweep of the historic high school tournament backed by Shakey’s Pizza Parlor, Potato Corner, Peri-Peri and R&B Tea with the City of Manila as a government cooperation partner.
“It wasn’t a perfect game as Naga played really well. We’re glad that in the end, history is made and the girls won the first Shakey’s GVIL. We’re proud of that,” said coach Obet Vital.
California Academy’s impressive campaign included a mammoth win against reigning University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) juniors champion National U-Nazareth School in the Final Four for a rousing momentum entering the Last Dance.
Still, the road to the summit was not a walk in the park as the California Academy spikers needed everything they could handle to hold off the resilient Naga side.
As Gajero and Dongallo set the tone in a 25-18 start, Naga refused to go down without a fight behind Arah Ellah Panique to spark a 10-3 start and equalize with a similar score, 25-18.
Umayam then joined the party, conspiring with Gajero and Dongallo for a lethal troika in their 25-14 snowball in the third set before erasing a 2-5 deficit in the fourth for the clincher.
Panique, the Best Outside Hitter, posted a game-high 19 points as Nathasza Kaye Bombita added 15 in the valiant runner-up finish of the Parley Tupaz-mentored Naga team, which had to brave long hours of travel every week just to play here.
Dona Mae De Leon (Best Middle Blocker) of Bacolod Tay Tung High School, NU-NS’ IC Cepada (Best Libero) and California’s Kizzie Madriaga (Best Setter) were also named to the Super Team of the tournament powered by Mikasa, Team Rebel Sports, Toby’s Sports, Genius Sports, SM Tickets and Summit Natural Drinking Water.
Earlier, De Leon showed the way with 13 points on 11 hits and two blocks as Bacolod swept NU-NS, 25-14, 25-22, 25-15 to clinch the bronze medal. Jothea Marie Ramos chipped in 11 points while Alexia Montoro and Ana Hermosura fired six apiece.
“Malaking bagay na ito. Malaking bagay na ‘yung bronze na maiuuwi namin sa Bacolod,” said coach Ian Macariola.
Kianne Louise Olango, with 16 points, served as the lone bright spot in NU-NS’ rare miss at a podium finish.