Shuqun's volleyball turn in the sun
They take the South Zone gold after defeating HCI, who beat them to the bronze last year
When they met last year, Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) defeated Shuqun Secondary School 2-0 to secure the South Zone C Division Boys' volleyball bronze medal.
Yesterday, Shuqun turned the tables on the same opponents, beating Hwa Chong 2-1 in the South Zone C final for the gold at Choa Chu Kang Sports Hall.
Hwa Chong started strongly and claimed the hard-fought first set 25-23.
But Shuqun returned for the second set a changed team, taking the early lead as they stormed to a 25-13 win to force the third set.
In the decider, Hwa Chong led 4-1 but mistakes allowed Shuqun to catch up.
A powerful spike by Lachlan Tan, 14, into an unmarked area gave Shuqun their first lead of the set and they did not look back.
They went on to win the set 25-17 and the gold medal.
"We are coming off a defeat by them last year, so the boys did fantastic given the fact that most of them did not have any experience playing the sport in primary school," Wilfred Yan, 34, Shuqun's subject head of CCAs, told The New Paper after their win.
"We stuck to our game plan and executed it well. We developed the team progressively and did what we had to do to build our team.
"The boys have been putting in a lot of hard work, and their determination and dedication have paid off."
Their captain Muhammad Zulkifli believes playing in a final in front of 200 supporters from their school helped them.
"On top of the constant cheering from my teammates, the school was also there to cheer us on," he said.
"That played an important role for the boys.
"Initially we felt pressured and nervous and that affected our performance in the first set.
"But, during the second set, we were able to overcome it.
"We felt better when we heard the cheers and we were able to play the game that we wanted to."
The win over Hwa Chong will see the boys head into the nationals next week, when they will face teams like Bukit Panjang Government High school and Presbyterian High - last year's champions and runners-up respectively.
"We finished in top 16 in last year's nationals but, this year, we feel confident and we hope to get top four," Lachlan said.
"We have watched how the other teams play. The team that we will be looking forward to meeting are volleyball powerhouses St Hilda's."
C Division girls' final (West Zone)
- Nanyang Girls' High School 2 Jurong Secondary School 0