By Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports
Chan Jia En (Dunman #2) spikes over Celene Wan (Nanyang #2). Jia En played a decisive role in the fourth and fifth sets as she pounded Nanyang with her spikes. (Photo 1 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Woodlands Sports Hall, Friday, April 9, 2010 - Dunman Secondary made history when they dethroned defending champions Nanyang Girls' High at the National B Division Girls Volleyball Championship final. They won the match 3-2 (25-15, 24-26, 21-25, 25-11, 15-11) to see themselves feature in the Top Four for the first time in 14 years.
Nanyang had earlier met Dunman in the quarter-finals where the latter triumphed 2-1, and Dunman certainly put this mental advantage to good use as they took the first set with ease. Nanyang started fighting back in the second set, and kept the scores close. Both teams were neck and neck, and Nanyang prevailed after bringing the set into a deuce.
In the third set, Nanyang stormed to an early lead. However, Dunman eventually caught up to level 18-18. Nanyang held off Dunman's advances to win the third set by a narrow margin. Dunman fought hard in the fourth set and kept Nanyang at bay. They commanded a decisive lead which saw Nanyang unable to fight back.
In the fifth set, Nanyang seemed like the favourites to win after having an early advantage over their opponents. However, Dunman clawed their way back and tied 11-11. Dunman then turned the tables on Nanyang and took home the set.
The first set started off with a drop shot from Poo Hui Jie (Dunman #7). Ong Wei Yu (Dunman #3) then fired off a serve which saw Nanyang unable to return to take a 2-0 lead. However, Wei Yu (Dunman #3) served out for Nanyang to take a point. Hui Jie (Dunman #7) then committed a net touch to see the score level 2-2.
The scores continued to be close, with the teams tied till the 6-6 mark. Despite Nanyang eventually pulling ahead to lead, bad spikes from the team saw Dunman draw level, and subsequently pull ahead. Dunman soon commanded a staggering 20-9 lead, leading to Nanyang to call for a time out.
Nanyang were not going to let Dunman take the set easily and fought on hard. Despite taking several points, they could not stop Dunman from reaching set point after a drop shot by Chan Jia En (Dunman #2). Jia En (Dunman #2) then executed another drop shot to take the set for the team.
Dunman were looking to repeat their performance from the first set, storming to a 5-2 lead. However, Nanyang quickly pulled level at 7-7, and continued to keep the scores close. At the 21-20 mark, Dunman increased their advantage after seeing Chan Chu Ning (Nanyang #5) deflect a spike from Wei Yu (Dunman #3) out of bounds.
Dunman surged towards set point after Hui Jie (Dunman #7) forced a touch out from Nanyang. Nanyang were not going down so easily, with Eleanor Chua (Nanyang #1) blocking a light spike from Jia En (Dunman #2). Eleanor (Nanyang #1) then brought the game into a deuce after spiking in an empty spot.
Hui Jie (Dunman #7) subsequently spiked out for Nanyang to gain the upper hand, and Eleanor (Nanyang #1) used this to her advantage as she spiked off Jia En's (Dunman #2) block to take the set for Nanyang.
Nanyang were raring to go, and stormed off to a 5-0 lead. Eleanor (Nanyang #1) missed a drop shot attempt at the next rally for Dunman to take a point. However, she quickly spiked to the centre of Dunman's court to take back service. Nanyang eventually led 8-2.
Dunman were not giving up, and leveled the score 9-9. They led momentarily, only for Nanyang to draw level again at 12-12. The lead exchanged hand several times, with Nanyang eventually leading 23-21. They soon saw themselves at set point after a spike from Chu Ning (Nanyang #5). Eleanor (Nanyang #1) then sealed the set for the team after a spike to the front-left of the court.
Dunman soared to a 4-0 lead in the set, with a spike from Eleanor (Nanyang #1) momentarily breaking the scoring streak. However, Dunman were on a rampage. Coupled with unforced errors from Nanyang, Dunman commanded a 10-1 lead. It was until the 13-3 mark did Nanyang call for a time out.
However, it brought not reprise as Dunman blitzed to lead 21-8, before Nanyang called for another time out. Jia En (Dunman #2) was on fire in the set and started showing her prowess with her powerful spikes. She had earlier chose to play with drop shots in the earlier sets, and her decision to go all out in the fourth set paid off as Dunman easily took home the set 25-11.
Dunman took the first point of the set when Vanessa Neo (Nanyang #4) deflected Wei Yu's (Dunman #3) serve out. Jia En's (Dunman #2) light spike in the next rally however found the net to see the score level 1-1. Nanyang took an early 4-1 lead and kept hold of their advantage. Unfortunately, Nanyang's setter Sara Pang (#7) had several bad sets in the subsequent rallies, and saw her ball being passed to the hands of the waiting Dunman blocker. Dunman drew level at 5-5, and went up to lead 8-6 at the changeover.
Nanyang kept up their chase, and never relented, seeing the match draw level at 11-11. Despite putting up a good fight to level, Nanyang suddenly had problems organizing any attacks. Wei Yu (Dunman #3) brought the score to 12-11 after a spike down the left line. Jia En (Dunman #2) then spiked down to take another point. Eleanor (Nanyang #1) unfortunately saw her spike find the set, and Dunman were at match point. Jia En (Dunman #2) took home the last point for the team when she sent a deflected ball into an empty spot in Nanyang's court.
Dunman captain Chan Jia En (#2) commented on her team’s performance. She said, “I think my team performed fairly well. Not only in skill, but also mental strength. We didn’t give up even though Nanyang won the second and third set. Instead, we drove even harder than before to clinch the fourth and fifth set.”
Dunman had won the first set convincingly, but let slip the second and third set. “Personally, I think that it was the final after all. Everyone was nervous,” shared Jia En. “I think the first set was just a warm-up for Nanyang. Being the defending champion, I believe that they would not allow us to beat them easily, hence they fought hard to make a comeback in the next two sets. We were taken aback by it. Credit has got to be given to Nanyang for their fighting spirit.”
Dunman was initially trailing Nanyang in the fifth set. Jia En shared her feelings during those intense moments. “I was tremendously anxious! [When Dunman drew level] at 11-11, my mind were thinking ‘Oh no, Eleanor Chua (#1) from Nanyang is coming up to the front row! How? How?’. She is the hot favorite and of course, a very strong opponent I must say! I was just hoping that we will reach match point before they do. But even at match point, I was still as nervous!”
When asked if the team had any pressure playing the defending champion, Jia En replied, “Of course there was pressure! However, this pressure somewhat motivated us even more. It was because they were the defending champion, it made us have even more desire to take the National Championship Title from them.”
She continued, “We are the first batch of Dunman volleyball girls after some years. We started in 2007 and we do not have any seniors. We are the first Dunman volleyball girls who clinch the Championship Title. I’m proud to be part of this team. It is definitely my honor to lead this team as well.”
Jia En added, “We want to thank our Coach, Teachers, as well as our family, the school staff, students and other supporters who came all the way down to support us. We will probably have a feast together as a team, with the teachers as well to celebrate, and also as to say farewell to the graduating players in the team!”
Cedar 3 Nanyang 2
(23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 15-12)
Ong Shan Hui (#1)
Chan Jia En (Captain, #2)
Ong Wei Yu (#3)
Thor Jia Min (#4)
Poo Hui Jie (#7)
Fatima Raudha (Libero, #8)
Low Zu Xian (#10)
Ng Chu Xuan Claira (#11)
Tan Yi Ling Eileen (#12)
Nanyang Girls' Lineup
Eleanor Chua Chih Yin (#1)
Wan Qian Ling Celene (#2)
Low Yi Yuan (#3)
Neo Jia Yu Vanessa (#4)
Chan Chu Ning (Captain, #5)
Tan Min Qhee (#6)
Sara Pang Si Min (#7)
Lai Wan Lin Angeline (#8)
Lim Cui Min (#9)
Shermaine Ng Wan Ting (#10)
Lau Wee Ling Elizabeth (#11)
Feng Ting Yi (#12)