All heart, all Shark: Sanchez girls win ISA, GSPN volleyball titles
It's one thing to build a championship-caliber team...but you need to seal the deal. Having a squad that's capable of winning it all is incomplete without the title to solidify it. And after years of crafting, practicing, and building not just a high-flying volleyball program, but a winning culture at Sanchez, the Sharks are finally back on top.
(Even if they can't go back on campus.)
"I'm just happy to be here," said assistant coach Cesar Mayoyo. "Back in the Sharks Den. The last time we won a championship with the Sharks for the boys was '88, but fast forward and I reached out to [head coach Richard Tumanda], and said, 'Hey, what's going on?', and we had practice and I came out and from that day on, I was hooked."
To get the program to realize its potential, six years ago the Yigo school looked no further than from within the family, enlisting two of the finest to ever be part of the silver-&-black attack. Mayoyo was an all-island setter, running a high-flying offense on the very first Sharks' boys team to win a title.
And Tumanda's dominant game at middle blocker took him all the way to the Guam National Team. his quiet demeanor, sniper-like focus and steely intimidation gave the Sharks their identity. But in both cases, it's the genuine love for their alma mater that brought them home.
Tumanda said, "We both graduated from Sanchez and we just want to give back to the volleyball program. We had good coaches, and we want to make sure that these girls have good coaches, as well."
This year's squad is anchored by the experience and leadership of its seniors, including two-time league MVP Kayna Kanemoto, a dominating force at middle blocker. She told KUAM Sports going on as champs, "It means a lot because it shows how much work we put into the game."
And they're supported by a cast of surprisingly mature underclassmen - including firepower from standout sophomores and liberos whose defensive intensity refuses to let any ball hit the ground, with a freshman setter running the show.
Their hard work, discipline and devotion to each other powered them to a straight-set win over Okkodo in the ISA title game for public schools. They also faced a huge test in the GSPN Champion vs. Champion match, facing an Academy team that itself won this season's private school league AND Far East titles. In both games, the opposition came out firing and built leads, but the Sharks hung tough and hung together, played their game, and won straight-set victories. They're the islandwide champs.
In a school year where the Yigo facilities already in disrepair were condemned after Typhoon Mawar and forced Sanchez to attend classes at JFK in Upper Tumon, such conditions tend to cause a school to be demoralized and lose its character. But when their school was at its worst, these athletes took it upon themselves to be their best.
Sanchez's championship run will stand the test of time, but they've also won much more than a title. They've secured integrity and pride. They've restored school spirit, the support of alumni, and earned the respect of their opponents. It's the ultimate achievement for any athlete at any level.
And now with the season over and the the l ights turned off in the gym, there's no one more proud than Coach Tumanda - not in a vain or braggy sense, but because his girls did what they were supposed to, in order to realize his dream for his school. "Some of these girls have been with us since freshman year," Tumanda commented. "And now that they're seniors, everything's coming to fruition right now, so I'm happy the these girls are really shining right now."
They're already looking ahead with the young, talented core they've got.
They fulfilled their potential. They brought the glory back to their school - for themselves, the student body, the faculty and administrators – to stand tall when saying you're from Sanchez.
And that you'll always be proud to be a Shark.