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Sablan, Vidal win Marianas: Willsey, Takashi take men's division crown

posted Mar 3, 2015, 2:47 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:49 AM ]
Reprinted from the Pacific Daily News at this link.

Anna Vidal taps a shot over Nozomi Yanagi to win the 23rd annual Marianas Cup Festival at Ypao Beach park. Vidal teamed up with Guam’s Tatiana Sablan to earn the championship in the women’s division.
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By A.T. Garrido/For Pacific Daily News
Written by
A.T. Garrido
For Pacific Daily News


Guam's own Tatianna Sablan brought home the gold medal from the recent Asian Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup in Mainly Australia with partner Kendra Byrd and yesterday, she continued her success on the beach, this time winning the women's division of the 23rd annual Marianas Cup Festival at the park at Ypao Beach.

Sablan teamed up with Anna Vidal from Spain to go undefeated throughout the playoffs and win the title on her third try at the Festival 21-18 against professional volleyball players Nozomi Yanagi and Anna Miyakawa from Japan. The win was a fitting parting gift for Vidal who will be departing Guam back to Spain today after a slew of coaching stints and clinics in our region.

"It is the perfect gift, for me. I'm happy," said Vidal after the victory. "This is my first time."

"This is always where I've wanted to be," Sablan said pointing to center court. "It's perfect winning this tournament and I'm just so glad that it was with (Anna)."

Sablan and Vidal gave credit to their consistent play throughout the tournament and to the advantage of coming from the winner's bracket and not having to play any extra games before the final.

"I think they were tired, because they came up from the loser's bracket," said Vidal. "We played our fifth game in the finals, but for them it was probably their seventh game. But I like how they play, (Anna) is really fast and plays tough."

The duo had to make a choice when they first faced the Japanese team during pool play, but when they met in the finals, Sablan/Vidal already had a game plan.

"We knew them (in the championship match) because we already played them, but we didn't see them play the entire tournament before that," said Sablan. "The first time we played them, we decided to just pick one and then if we were successful, we would stick with it and if not, then we would adjust and pick on the other player."

After building an early lead, Sablan/Vidal had to fight from behind to take the advantage later into the match and led 18-15 after an ace by Vidal down the line.

Yanagi/Miyakawa called a timeout to put pressure on the server. The strategy worked as a service error gave them the service advantage. Yanagi chose to serve Sablan who sent a perfect pass to Vidal and received a set up the middle, which she tapped a looping shot to deep center and out of reach of either of her opponents for a 19-17 advantage and just two points from the title. After a free ball returned by Yanagi/Miyakawa, Vidal went up high on a tight Sablan set after a phenomenal save and cut a sharp shot that rolled the length of the net and dropped just inside the line for match point.

Miyakawa returned the favor, hitting off of Vidal's block to give her team some hope at 20-18, but it was just a delay of the inevitable as Vidal ended all thoughts of a comeback with a short angle shot over Yanagi's block and into the corner for the victory.

Coming in third place were the team of Kendra Byrd and Erika Habaguchi.

Men's division

The team of Tyler Willsey and Tsuchiya Takashi came away with the championship with a 21-19 hard-fought victory against Russ Quinn and Kosuke Sato. Willsey/Takashi had the advantage of coming from the winners' bracket where they waited for Quinn/Sato to advance.

Willsey and Quinn are actual teammates from Saipan who were paired with Japanese professionals Takashi and Sato for the tournament, and ended up facing each other in the championship match.

Quinn/Sato advanced to the finals after they defeated Jeff Carlucci and Brandon Chance 8-4 due to a forfeit injury. Carlucci/Chance finished third.