Story by REDintern Alethia Tiang. Pictures by Koh Yizhe, Marvin Lowe/Red Sports. Video by Lai Jun Wei.
Xinmin #13 Deepak Rai spikes. (Photo 1 © Koh Yizhe/Red Sports)
Yio Chu Kang Sports Hall, Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - Seven-time champions since 1998, St. Hilda's Secondary School continued their National B Division Volleyball Championship reign for the third running year with their 3-1 (17-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-15) triumph over Xinmin Secondary.
With their C Division boys’ victory the day before, the Xinmin B Division boys were looking to do a double.
St. Hilda's Sng Seng Whye (#11) spiked the ball into Xinmin's court to win their first point but as the game continued, both teams took turns to lead the set. It was Xinmin that eventually won the first set 25-17 to go up 1-0 overall.
A fierce spike by captain Benjamin Choo (#7) of St. Hilda's set off a run of seven consecutive points without reply from Xinmin. St. Hilda’s wrapped up the second set 25-14 to even it at 1-1.
A controversy in the third set over whether the ball spiked by Gilbert of Xinmin was in or out of bounds was eventually ruled in favour of St. Hilda’s. Frustrated, Xinmin lost three consecutive points.
However, Xinmin hauled themselves back from 2-8 to 10-14 but St. Hilda's stopped the rot and a final point scored by Kevin Chua (St. Hilda's, #3), wrapped it up 25-16 for a 2-1 overall lead.
With just one more set to wrap up the championship, St. Hilda's gained more confidence. Benjamin Choo won the first point against Xinmin but he got an immediate reply from Xinmin's Gilbert Toh who spiked past the block set up by St. Hilda's Cheong Hai Jing (#6) and Benjamin Choo. It was a tug-of-war with both teams trading points.
Then a sweaty spot on court proved Xinmin’s undoing. One of their players slipped and missed the ball with the score tied at 9-9. This gave St. Hilda's a 10-9 lead and they pulled further ahead to 15-11. With the momentum firmly in their favour now and they soon wrapped it up 25-15 to secure their third championship title in a row.