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Seoul American’s girls volleyball team’s accomplishments in the Far East High School Class AA Tournament paled a bit next to the team championships won by the Falcons’ cross country and tennis teams.

But coach Denny Hilgar achieved a first in his 26 years at the Falcons’ helm:

“This was the first time I placed seventh,” Hilgar said after Seoul American defeated Simon Sanchez of Guam 25-16, 25-7, 26-24 in the first of Saturday’s placement matches.

The dean of Far East girls volleyball coaches has three Final Four finishes to his credit, including 1984 and 1999 appearances at Center Court, both losses to Guam teams.

The 2005 Falcons were cobbled together out of a handful of holdovers, setters Kim Lee and Whitney Grandy and defensive specialist Lorna Haney, 6-foot-5 senior transfer middle-hitter Margaret Nurse and middle-blocker Avianca Manning, who moved up from junior varsity.

The team appeared talented on paper but “it was a year of frustration,” Hilgar said. “Much of the time was spent trying to get the girls to believe in themselves.”

The Falcons placed third in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference regular season and second in the KAIAC tournament and entered the Class AA tournament — which they hosted — with Hilgar’s fingers crossed, “hoping we could make the top eight,” he said.

Over the week-long tournament, he said, the team began to jell. Then it “came of age” in a heartbreaking quarterfinal loss to Kubasaki of Okinawa, in which the Falcons led the fifth set 11-4.

“We just fell a little short at the end,” Hilgar said. “Kubasaki played a great match. To be so close, that was bittersweet.”

Beating Simon Sanchez helped the Falcons close on a high note, he said, adding, “They came around. They did a nice job.”

In the championship match, Christian Academy In Japan captured the title, the Knights’ first since 2001 and their third overall. CAJ won 28-26, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20 over the American School In Japan, which was making its first Center Court appearance since 1991.

John F. Kennedy of Guam took third place, defeating Kubasaki 15-25, 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 16-14; the Dragons finished fourth, their best finish since placing third in 2001.

And in an all-Guam battle for fifth place, defending champion Academy of Our Lady edged George Washington 25-23, 22-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9. The match pitted the teams that battled for the island championship the last two years and played in 2004’s Class AA championship.

Guam’s Evans handed first defeatFar East cross country boys individual champion Matt Evans of Guam High had his unbeaten season ended Friday by J.M. Kwak of Tokyo’s St. Mary’s International Titans in the Asia-Pacific Invitational Meet hosted by George Washington.

Kwak, who won last year’s inaugural meet, ran the fastest time in the region this season, 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Evans, who earlier this season held the fastest-time with a 17:03, came in 21 seconds behind Kwak, a fellow senior.

Almost 150 runners from 15 schools, including Guam High, were in the meet, which came into being after Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific decided to limit Far East meets to DODDS schools only.


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