Written by: Shervin Lim
Edited by: Shalom Alexandra
Friday evening, UTown Sports Hall, no air-conditioning, against the Games’ reigning volleyball champion Raffles Hall; these were the conditions in which our volleyball team had to compete in.
The odds were most certainly not in our favour, but our team remained focused on playing a good game. Although we were dwarfed in the size of our team, we dominated with our crowd of supporters – never once did we let the possibility of losing deter us from cheering the team on. And so the match ensued.
Leading his team onto the court was team captain Ivan, joined by the All-Stars team of Winto, Tian Sheng, Regan, Nelson and vice captain Choon Hing. Ivan began the service, confidently landing the ball across the net, as RH scrambled and gave away the first point after some miscommunication. Unaffected by the opponent’s display, Regan and Choon Hing leapt to the net and deflected an opponent’s shot, bringing the scores to 4-3, in favour of KE.
As the neck-to-neck score climb continued, Wen Shen (The Giant) entered the court and began to make his presence felt as the team’s center forward. However, it soon became clear that even a determined spike from The Giant could not resist the leap that RH was about to make on the scoreboard. Several mistakes made on the side of KE became the openings for RH to capitalize and shift the scores, 12-7 to RH.
Setting a perfect example for his team, Ivan delivered yet another delicate serve to the edge of RH’s playing area. While Regan continued his stellar footwork across the court in a bid to block the opponent’s shots, Winto tried to regain his composure after a nervous start – a good attempt it was, as he eventually got his head back in the game with a good return, though the scores remained in favour of RH, 11-16.
Perhaps to provide exposure for the other players, the team eventually made substitutions as Renwei and Teoh Guan entered to relieve some of the players. Ivan, on the other hand, demonstrated a skill no one knew he had – breakdancing – in order to keep his team in the game. Sprawled across the court, it seemed like a scene out of a Stephen Chow kung fu movie as the spectators were treated to Ivan’s finesse across the polished floor.
De Sheng, too, entered the court as the game approached its end. The first set, however, ended after his serve failed to connect and RH took it home, 25-12. Cheers from the supporters continued even as the team proceeded to the side to discuss their strategy for the second set. RH, on the other hand, had perhaps too much faith in their men’s volleyball team and decided, as I found out later, to leave and wholeheartedly support their women’s team instead.
The All-Stars team returned for the second set as RH took an early lead of 2-0 after their no. 16 landed a just-over-the-net service. A well-positioned spike from Regan garnered KE their first point for the set but the team found it difficult to challenge RH’s momentum. A clash between Regan and RH’s no. 17 at the net resulted in a curious decision by the umpire to replay the point, but the score remained in RH’s favour at 5-2.
A couple more drop shots from RH kept the point lead at an uncomfortable 9-4 against KE, as the latter struggled in its recovery. A spike from Choon Hing met the antenna as RH continued to ride on our team’s mistakes. Complacency seemed to have settled in RH for a period, as they repeatedly cast their shots over KE’s playing area. Meanwhile, Ivan negotiated a difficult return that could not be retrieved by RH, closing the point difference to 14-8.
Teoh Guan entered shortly after, but his service failed to connect with RH. Sly play from RH’s no. 16 at the net kept their team’s control of the game. It was comedic, however, when one of RH’s players decided to join KE, albeit fleetingly, as he ran under the net to KE’s area in a bid to save the ball. The chase grew tougher there on as RH kept the pressure with a score of 19-10.
It seemed inevitable that Ivan had to, once again, unleash his b-boying moves, hoping to cut the team’s losses. RH, carried mostly by their no. 16, did not relent till the game ended and the score concluded 25-12 to RH. In the face of a formidable opponent, the KE volleyball team must be commended for the tough fight they put up against RH. RH proceeded to the semi-finals as the game tally was 2-0 in their favour.
Photos courtesy of KE Vision.