Senior class steps up in final victory over Seisen International
Story and photo by Greg Mitchell
It wasn’t the way that they envisioned finishing the season, but it was on a positive note. The Nile C. Kinnick Lady Red Devils concluded their 2014 volleyball season by beating Seisen International Phoenix in straight sets, 25-23, 25-14 and 25-21, to finish in 3rd place at the 2014 Far East Division I Championship Tournament at Yokota Air Base’s Samurai Fitness Center, Nov. 6.
Teams competing in the eight-team tournament included host Yokota Panthers, Kinnick, Seisen, Seoul American, Kadena, Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ), Kubasaki and American School in Japan with the winner being crowned the best team in Division I.
“We played a very sound game on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Anthony San Nicolas. “It was a definite contribution and a great finish by all five of my seniors. They really stepped up big!”
Audri Salter again led the team with 19 kills and one block. Charla Johnson had 41 assists and two digs. Katrina Reed had seven aces, five digs and three kills; Rhyssa Hizon had seven digs, seven kills and one ace and Shakita Samuels had six kills, four digs and two aces.
All the mentioned players happened to be seniors, each of which contributed in what would be their last games donning the red, black and white.
“It really hit home,” said Salter. “Not only did it hit home for me but, also for the rest of us seniors. I think I can say that we, the team as a whole, entirely knew this was it for the season. We had nothing to lose, so we just went out there and left everything out on the court.”
Her teammates agreed.
“We just thought about what coach kept emphasizing from the start of the season and just keep fighting to finish strong, and that is what we did,” said junior Aya Stewart.
The outcome of this game was the direct opposite of the pervious nights’ matchup against four-time defending champion and arch nemesis, the ASIJ Mustangs. If the Red Devils had won, they would have ended up playing the Kubasaki Samurai for the championship. ASIJ ended up prevailing in straight sets, 25-16, 25-16 and 25-14.
“The outcome last night was not what we envisioned,” said SanNicolas. “I told them that no one expects to lose but, they should keep their heads up and focus on finishing in 3rd place, and that’s what happened.”
In what was viewed as a huge upset, ASIJ was defeated by Kubasaki in a hard fought, toe-to-toe final, 13-25, 29-27, 27-25, 26-24.
San Nicolas felt that the team could not have had the success it did without adequate support.
“I would like to thank our administration and athletic director for affording me an opportunity to coach,” said San Nicolas. “I would also like to thank our parents, faculty and student body for being there for the girls throughout the entire season. Above all, my hats’ off to a wonderful group of young ladies on both junior varsity and varsity.”