By Tay Jun Wen/Red Sports
Toa Payoh Sports Hall, Friday, April 5, 2013 — It was a test of both stamina and skills today as the final went to five sets in the National B Division Boys’ Volleyball Championship final. Eventually, it was St. Hilda’s Secondary who prevailed as they defeated Punggol Secondary 3–2.
The first set tied early at 4–4. Punggol then went on a five-point streak, denying their opponents points with strong blockers in the form of captain Nigel Keh (#3), Aloysius Keh (#1) and Goh Koon Tat (#17) .
Coming back from a St. Hilda’s timeout, Punggol scored two more to lead 11–4.Their seven-point lead was retained till 14–7. With their great defence, they were outscored St. Hilda’s and managed to extend their lead to nine at 20–11.
St. Hilda’s then called for another timeout and the team came back with a renewed fire in them. They began with a four-point streak, followed by Punggol’s one-point response before scoring two more. Still leading 21–17, Punggol called for their timeout.
After that, Punggol managed to keep their four point-lead at 22–18. St. Hilda’s made a point, but Punggol went for three points in a row to take the first set at 25–19.
Punggol’s powerful blocks continued in the second set. With Yeo Jie Feng (#9) and Ngiam Yee Zhi (#5) blocking, St. Hilda’s had to cast back the thought of launching a full-forced spike more than just a few times. Both teams tied at 9–9. Two points by St. Hilda’s and a point by Punggol allowed St. Hilda’s to lead 11–10.
St. Hilda’s then made three straight points to pull away at 14–10. This four-point advantage was kept throughout by St. Hilda’s till 21–17. A final four-point streak by St. Hilda’s saw them winning the second set comfortably at 25–17.
It was a dramatic third set as both teams were neck and neck. They tied till 9–9. In the process, Kazushi Fujiwara (#14) of St. Hilda’s picked up a rare yellow card because he taunted Punggol with gestures signaling a hit-out.
Having a one point advantage at 12–11, St. Hilda’s pulled away by scoring three points consecutively. Punggol scored two, before St. Hilda’s went on another three-point run to lead 18–13. Punggol scored one but St. Hilda’s responded with another two to have a 20–14 lead.
It was a pivotal moment for Punggol as they went on an amazing eight-point streak, staging a comeback to lead 22–20. After a timeout by St. Hilda’s, they managed to end their drought with a point. Punggol bagged two more, with St. Hilda’s only adding one more. Soon after, Punggol wrapped the third set up with 25–22.
At this stage, this was a mirror of their previous game in Round 2, where they had defeated St. Hilda’s 2–1 (17–25, 25–20, 25–23).
Undeterred, St. Hilda’s entered the fourth set with a different strategy. Instead of utilising strong spikes, they decided to tip the ball over the blockers and used players as decoy spikers. This proved to be an effective strategy.
Initially down 7–3, Punggol made a four-point run to tie it up at 7–7. St. Hilda’s scored three more in response to Punggol’s two. Leading 10–9, St. Hilda’s seemed to have found the weakness of Punggol. They went on an eight-point streak to lead 18–9. Punggol tried to chase, but St. Hilda’s were simply outscoring them by far too many.
Both teams managed to score three points, with a nine-point gap at 21–12. Three unanswered points by St. Hilda’s put them just a point away from winning the fourth set. Punggol made a point, but St. Hilda’s claimed victory and won the fourth set 25–13.
Keeping up their gameplay, St. Hilda’s started the fifth set by taking the first two points. Punggol made a point but St. Hilda’s scored three consecutively to lead 5–1. The four-point lead was kept till 9–5. St. Hilda’s stepped ahead and scored two more, taking a six-point (11–5) lead. Both teams then matched each other point for point. But since St. Hilda’s established an early lead, they won the final set eventually at 15–9.
Punggol’s captain, Nigel Keh (#3) commented: “It was a good game. We did well in our defence, attack and cheering. Our opponents did well as well.”
Thinking back on his journey throughout the comepetition, Nigel felt that his team had learnt to work together better and have developed more teamwork.
“Even though we lost, I’m still very proud of my team,” said Nigel.
Captain of St. Hilda’s, Royston Ho (#7), said: “We fought till the end. Though we were always losing by one set, we had a fighting spirit. We really enjoyed today’s game.”
Royston also commended Punggol on their strong never-say-die attitude.
“Through this competition, we have changed our thinking towards every game,” added Royston.
When asked about their celebratory plans, St. Hilda’s vice-captain, Darius Lim (#1), smiled and said: “We’re probably going for a buffet.”
Score by Sets
Punggol 2 St. Hilda’s 3
1st Set: 25–19
2nd Set: 17–25
3rd Set: 25–22
4th Set: 13–25
5th Set: 9–15
Punggol Secondary Roster
Aloysius Keh Chen Han (#1), Nigel Keh Chen Hao (#3), Ngiam Yee Zhi (#5), Lee Wen Jun (#6), Chew Zhijie Melric (#7), Sebastian Yin Jia Jun (#8), Yeo Jie Feng (#9), Muhammad Haiqal Bin Mohamed A (#10), Loh Wei Hsuan (#11), Qin Tian (#12), Lloyd Goh Qi Xuan (#15), Chan Kei Jeral (#16), Goh Koon Tat (#17), Woo Ying Kang (#18)
St. Hilda’s Secondary Roster
Lim Chuan Zhi Darius (#1), Maguire Ong (#2), Lim Jing Qiang Dennis (#3), Adriel Tan Wen Zheng (#4), Jonathan Goh Qing Yan (#5), Neo Jia Cheng Aloysius (#6), Ho Zhe Wei Royston (#7), Tian Seet Khuen (#8), Kenneth Xu Jun Zhi (#9), Ho Lien Hong (#10), Lee Kang Yue Marc (#11), Clement Tan Kai Ern (#12), Chua Tian Wen Edwin (#13), Kazushi Fujiwara (#14)
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