Jelaica Gajero, Casiey Dongallo power California Academy to Shakey’s Girls title
MANILA, Philippines—California Academy outlasted Naga College Foundation, 25-18, 18-25, 25-14, 25-19, to accomplish a perfect title campaign in the 2023 Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) Saturday at San Andres Gym in Manila.
Jelaica Gajero and Casiey Dongallo continued to prove that they are one of the deadliest high school duos in the country as they took down the much taller Tigers, led by the tandem of Arah Panique and Kaye Bombita, in an hour and 35-minute championship game.
Gajero unleashed a team-high 18 points built on 13 attacks and five blocks, while Dongallo chipped in 17 points off 15 kills, one block, and an ace.
“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 California coach Obet Vital after their unbeaten title run, sweeping all its three matches in the group stage before eliminating UAAP champion National University-Nazareth School in the semifinals last week.
It’s the second major title of California in the country as it also ruled the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League last year.
The Antipolo-based school failed to carry its momentum from its first set win as it had a sluggish 3-10 start in the second set.
California used its strong service to regain the advantage 16-15 but Panique’s service connected to Bombita’s attacking to take the second frame and equalize the game to one set apiece.
California Academy was quick to get its act together as it dominated the last two sets to rule the 16-team high school volleyball tournament as Keishia Abitria’s attack error served as the championship point of the unbeaten squad.
Setter Kizzie Madriaga provided the brilliant plays and fired three aces in the third set to bring back the momentum to California, while middle blocker Jenalyn Umayam added 13 points.
Naga, which gave up 33 errors, settled for silver with Panique leading the way with a game-high 19 points off 15 attacks, three aces, and a block, while Bombita, sister of PVL player Graze, had 15 points including three blocks.
Meanwhile, Bacolod Tay Tung High School stunned the reigning UAAP girls champion National University-Nazareth School, 25-14, 25-22, 25-15, to clinch the bronze medal.
After failing to reach the Finals with a semifinal loss to Naga last week, the Thunderbolts vented their ire on the Lady Bullpups with graduating setter Katherine Cortez pacing her team with brilliant plays and nailing two blocks to finish with four points.
Dona Mae De Leon led Bacolod with 13 points on 11 attacks and two blocks. Maria Jothea Ramos contributed 11 points, while Alexia Montoro and Ana Hermosura added six markers each.
“Bringing home the bronze to Bacolod is very big for us,” said the Thunderbolts coach Ian Macariola in Filipino.
“We fixed the character and attitude of the team for this game because their skills are already there,” he added.
Bacolod swept its group in the elimination play but fell prey to the resilient Naga side in the Final Four, 25-11, 23-25, 23-25, 23-25.
NU-NS missed the podium with Kianne Louise Olango being the lone bright spot with 16 points in defeat.
The Lady Bullpups ended the tournament with two straight losses, following a 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 25-27 loss to California.
In the classification matches, Adamson secured the fifth spot as Far Eastern U-Diliman captured seventh place after contrasting wins over University of Santo Tomas and La Salle Lipa, respectively.
In the battle for fifth, Shaina Nitura poured 25 points to lead Adamson in its 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 win over University of Santo Tomas.
Far Eastern University-Diliman placed seventh as it banked on Lovely Lopez’s 23-point explosion in their thrilling 19-25, 25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 17-15 victory over La Salle Lipa.