By Jay Leon Guerrero

After finishing with just four wins last season, the San Vicente Braves had a complete turnaround and finished with a 9-1 record after defeating the St. Francis Crusaders in straight sets (25-17, 25-11).

Jake Carbullido had a solid all-around game for the Braves finishing with 5 kills, 2 aces, and 2 blocks. “Our game plan was to just play our best and have fun,” said Carbullido. Carbullido had two aces in the second set that helped the Braves pull ahead by 10 points.

According to Braves’ coach Oscar Delos Reyes, his team worked hard and he was pleased with their performance this season. “We saw much improvement compared to last season. I’m proud of all of them,” said Delos Reyes.

The Crusaders opened the contest with a 6-2 lead behind the aggressive play from outside hitter Randy Taimanglo. Taimanglo was active at the net with a block and a kill to give the Crusaders the early advantage.

Braves Jayden Taitano controls his bump to an awaiting team mate. (photo by Jose Perez)

Braves Jayden Taitano controls his bump to an awaiting team mate. (photo by Jose Perez)

The Braves seized momentum with server Kobe Martinez leading the way behind the service line. Martinez stayed on the line during a 7-0 run thanks to an ace and strong defensive plays from Jayden Taitano and Carbullido to go up 12-5.

Crusader team captain Shayden Hattori starts a 4-0 rally with an ace and strong back row defense to have the Crusaders trailing 15-19. The Crusaders looked to close the gap going into the final stretch but four straight errors helped the Braves sneak away with the first set victory.

In the second set, Raymond Castro set the tone for the Braves and helped them to an early 6-2 lead with his defense and serves. Aiden McDonald had two kills for the Braves as they quickly built a double-digit lead. Carbullido and Taitano finished the set off for the 25-11 lead from the service line with each serving two aces to secure the straight set victory for the Braves.

“They (Crusaders) played really well today, their spikes were really hard,” said Carbullido. “Last season we only had four wins, this year we improved on our teamwork and our communication was good,” added Carbullido. Communication was key for the Braves as they limited their errors in the second set, committing just two unforced errors.

Crusaders Shayden Attao extends to slam one down court. (photo by Jose Perez)

Crusaders Shayden Attao extends to slam one down court. (photo by Jose Perez)

Despite the victory and the 9-1 finish, the Braves would have to settle for second place behind the Bishop Obispos who are currently 9-0.

According to Delos Reyes, the Obispos play Santa Barbara on their next game and should they lose, they will still be champions because they defeated the Braves earlier this season. Despite not winning the championship, Delos Reyes was still proud of his team effort.

Taimanglo had two kills and two aces for the 4-6 Crusaders. Attao had one kill, one ace, and one block for the Crusaders. McDonald had three kills, Castro had two kills for the second place Braves.

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