Victoria JC sweat to retain A Boys’ volleyball title
But they do it the hard way before retaining Boys' A Div volleyball title
A single point was all that stood between Victoria Junior College and the championship.
However, they chose the hard route as they conceded five consecutive points to Nanyang Junior College to lose the fourth set 26-24 in their National Schools Boys' A Division volleyball final yesterday.
But it turned out to be a minor blip for defending champions VJC, who claimed the deciding set 15-7 to edge out their opponents 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 28-26, 24-26, 15-7) at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.
VJC coach Woo Kok Onn said the fourth-set capitulation did not affect his boys as they were prepared to slog it out for the trophy.
"It was a 50-50 game, but our boys are mentally strong. They said they would fight for the fifth set, as we've been preparing for that during training," he told The New Paper.
"I told the players not to think that every match would be an easy game, and that they should prepare themselves fitness-wise."
The packed arena was treated to spectacular dives and nerve-wracking moments as the teams fought neck and neck - in the first four sets, neither won by more than three points.
In the third set, VJC outside spiker Tan Yi Xian broke his glasses after trying to block a spike, but gamely played on within a minute of groping around for his lens.
Victoria captain Maguire Ong, 17, said: "This is the last year for some of us, so it's great for all the J2s that we won, especially as all of us are nursing injuries and some were ill before the game.
"I got a cramp in the fourth set when we were leading, so to show our fighting spirit and come out as winners really embodied the VJC spirit."
Maguire, who plays as a setter, admitted that he saw heads fall when they failed to see out the game in the fourth set.
"The morale was still okay when we were leading, but we felt a bit down when they came back and won the set," he said.
"When I started cramping, the coach told us to accommodate me as I couldn't really jump and start any move."
Woo wanted his captain to be at the heart of their game plan.
"We spent a lot of time training our serve receiving; if that is good, and because our setter has good skills, he can play a lot of combinations and tactics," he said.
"The team showed good combinations and technique on the court."
Maguire, who was part of last year's title-winning VJC team, started playing volleyball when he was drafted into the famous St Hilda's Secondary School squad as a Secondary 1 student five years ago.
But things might have turned out very differently had his then-coach not made an exception for him.
"Because I was transferred late into the school, I didn't have the chance to go through the selection like the rest of my teammates," he said.
"Next, I plan to play for a university, and I might also join the national team."
- Girls' A Division final: Nanyang Junior College 3 Hwa Chong Institution 0