CAMP WALKER, South Korea — After lofting its second Far East High School Girls Class A Volleyball Tournament banner in four years, Daegu American just might be on to something, coach Joanna Wyche thinks.

"They’ve not played their best ball, not by a long shot," Wyche said after her Warriors, mostly juniors led by MVP Kristina Bergman, handed Morrison Christian Academy of Taiwan its third straight finals defeat, 27-29, 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 at Camp Walker’s Kelly Gym.

Almost all the Warriors are due to return in 2010, when Wyche believes her players can complete what she considers the team’s most important task: "Trust themselves to do what they believe they can do," she said.

Wyche said the biggest adjustment she needed her players to make this season was to stop being accustomed to losing, and playing not to lose instead of to win.

"They’re well on their way toward that," Wyche said of the team’s progress. "Regardless of the situation, they have to trust themselves to implement, rather than be cautious about their performance."

Caution was notably absent, players and coach said, during Friday’s final. Passing and defense, they said, helped lead Daegu’s way.

"When our back row is on, everything is on," said Bergman, who had 14 spike kills and five defensive digs. "Passing is one of the most important keys to our team. Last year, we didn’t have strong passing. This year, we do."

"The best offense is a good defense. It showed up today," added junior setter Angie Robinet, who had five digs and 11 set assists. Fellow setter Gulee Kwon had 10 assists and Tia Rosenstein five, while Alexis Parker had 10 digs and Leanne Quizon added five.

Daegu’s title was the third straight by a DODEA Pacific team, the fourth in five years dating to the Warriors’ first and the fifth in eight years dating to Osan American’s first of three titles in 2001.

"It’s indescribable. Something I never felt before. Something I hope to feel over and over and over again," Robinet said.

Falcons fail in bid for first Class AA title

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Lack of energy, coach Denny Hilgar said, was to blame as Seoul American’s bid for its first Girls Class AA Volleyball Tournament title came up short.

Faith Academy swept the Korea-champion Falcons 26-24, 25-23 in Friday’s semifinals at Coral Reef Fitness & Sports Center. It was the Vanguards’ first appearance in the finals, something coach Val Manthe, Faith Class of ’98, didn’t get to do as a player.

"It’s a dream come true," Manthe said. "I wish I was on the court, but this is exciting. What I didn’t get to do as a player, I get to do as a coach."

Faith plays 2005 and ’07 champion Christian Academy In Japan in Saturday’s title match at 5:30 p.m.

"We lacked the energy to play the opponent on the other side of the net," Hilgar said. "We had a couple of kids hustle, but we didn’t play to our strengths. We held back. We played not to lose instead of playing to win."

Part of it was that except for junior Liz Gleaves, none of the Falcons had been in that situation before, Hilgar said. Gleaves had five kills in 15 attempts and five digs, and fellow junior Destinee’ Harrison had eight kills in 19 attempts, four block points and six digs.

"She was the sparkplug, and nobody else was picking up," Hilgar said of Harrison. "Faith came to play. They kept us on our heels with great court coverage. They deserve to be in the final."

Gary Cashman and Michelle Chandler contributed to this report.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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