Sacred Heart upends favorites to grab title
Kelly Braun spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to the Far East Division II Volleyball Tournament telling her International School of the Sacred Heart players that Matthew C. Perry and Robert D. Edgren were the teams they had to watch for.
“But they’re not going to know what hit them,” Braun said she told her Symbas. Her words proved prophetic on Thursday, as Sacred Heart captured its first tournament title in school history, beating the Samurai 27-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-15 in the final.
“I told them that if we kept a positive attitude and worked as a team, that anything was possible,” said Braun, the Symbas’ first-year head coach, following a victory that she acknowledged few would have expected other than the Symbas themselves.
Edgren went unbeaten in the regular season, while the Samurai suffered two losses but still beat every DODDS Japan team they played this season.
But the Symbas fired the first warning shot by taking out Edgren in Thursday’s semifinal in four sets. That set the stage for Sacred Heart to take on Perry, a four-set semifinal winner over Zama, in Thursday’s championship match.
The first three sets could have swayed in either direction, with Sacred Heart prevailing in the first and third. From there, it was all Symbas, as they took charge and won the fourth set handily.
“It was all about team and all about positive attitude,” Braun said, calling the victory a “nine-person team effort.”
Braun cited the play of tournament MVP Yoko Imajo, the Symbas’ outside hitter, along with two-time All-Tournament selection Nina Warita, defensive specialist Rina Ogawa, middle blocker Kolora Momoedonu and setters Karen Mizushima and Mia Korver as keys to victory.
“They each had good moments, each had kills, each had aces and they all played a good all-around game,” Braun said.
It was just the second Far East title in a team sport in school history. The other came in February 2004 in the Far East D-II basketball tournament over Osan.
With Korver, Mizushima and Warita set to return along with sophomore defensive specialist Emu Yoshimura, Braun says the future is bright for Symbas volleyball. Asked what’s next, she said: “We come back and do it again next year.”