To shamelessly steal the opening line from last year’s IFG article, it is that time of the year again where 12 sweaty men pound balls in a hot, stuffy room. That’s right, volleyball season is in! The men’s team this year comprised of Andre Koh, Norman Aziz, Hyrum Li, Gan Xian Kai (all year 4), Foo Jyh Howe, Foo Chuan Ri, Marc Leung (all year 2), Yap Shi Kai and Jeremy Ng (both year 1). Maverick Tan and Akshay Prasad (both year 1) were also valuable assets to our team but were unable to make it down for the games due to other commitments.
This year, we were drawn in a tough group with very competent opponents (there are no easy games, as they say) in Engineering, Yale-NUS, Science and Dentistry.
Facing the reigning IFG champions in our first fixture was never going to be an easy task, and not having our regular setter “Destroyer” Cheah Wenjie (upon request for a more intimidating nickname) available made the task all the more mountainous. The absence of our very popular teammate “John” Chua Cheng Aik was also a big blow for us. However, Senior Emeritus Captain Andre Koh stepped in and sacrificed his spiking prowess to take over the setter role for the day. With this being the first game and also the first time the six players on court played together, there were a few communication and tactical errors which were made (and which we were punished ruthlessly for), but they were slowly ironed out as the game progressed.
It was also worth noting that having had the comfort of playing in an air-conditioned sports hall last year, the lack of heat acclimatisation had visibly affected us initially when the air-con was questionably not turned on this year. Much blood, sweat and tears (just sweat, actually) were shed as we, being the clear underdogs, stood up bravely against a very powerful Engin team. However, their strength in attack eventually overwhelmed us as our boys succumbed to a 0-2 loss, having pushed them closer than we had expected in the second set (14-25, 18-25).
Not content with our opening defeat, we rallied ourselves for our next game against a very enthusiastic Yale NUS team with their very own dedicated cheerleaders (probably the only set of supporters in the sports hall at the time, except Andre’s significant other who was our only supporter – cheers!). More attacking opportunities were converted in this game, thanks no less to the wonderful setting by the charmingly versatile Andre, who set up numerous attacks for spikers “Bankai” Yap Shi Kai, Norman “The Academic” Aziz, “Jai Ho” Foo Jyh Howe and Jeremy “Avalon” Ng.
Some of our spikes were so powerful that reverberations from the ball hitting the ground could be heard all the way from Bukit Timah (on a Saturday no less, where everyone is probably still studying). Perhaps one of Bankai Yap’s spikes was so powerful that the ball exploded, which might potentially explain the mysterious disappearance of one of our own volleyballs.
Foo Chuan Ri(pped), who was playing for the first time in an unfamiliar position as a sub-set, and Marc “Legend” Leung, who was making his IFG volleyball debut, both maintained their composure and defended calmly when they were called upon, guided by IHG-winning libero Gan Xian Kai. However, it is unfortunate that Chuanripped had, by this time, lost his 100% win record in IFG volleyball (4 played 2 won), but thankfully the legendary Marc has now assumed that undefeated record (1 played 1 won E Z GAME).
All in all, we stuck to our gameplan and limited our defensive mistakes to a minimum, while overpowering our opponents in attack. We eventually won this match 2-0 (25-19, 25-20), though credit must be given to YNC for putting up a very resilient and spirited fight.
Having already lost one match, it was imperative that we needed to beat the other seeded team, Science, to stand any chance of making the semis. Our match against Science started after lunch, and a combination of ill-advised meal choices (read Andre and his nasi padang) and the stuffy environment of the court (I cannot stress enough how stuffy it was) threatened to put us in a state of lethargy.
However, when the match started, it was a pulsating affair with countless rallies. Our opponents were ruthless in attack and we were forced to cover more ground to defend against their attacks. However, by this point, we were more positionally aware and resolute in defence, while also serving up some more very impressive attacking plays in return. We even made a few deftly-executed drop balls and thunderous back-row spikes which caught our opponents off guard at times. In fact, our main attacking outlet, Bankai Yap, was so much of a threat that our opponents decided to utilise all three of their front-row blockers to nullify him.
After our first set, Hyrum “Engaged” Li finally arrived after rushing down from BTC having just finished his intensive lessons, and took his place in the team to attempt to salvage a victory. Destroyer Cheah also found time to cheer us on from the sidelines, and their presence greatly lifted our moods. Alas, despite giving our most valiant efforts and fighting till the very last point (regrettably amidst an array of service and other individual errors), Science proved too strong for us as we bowed out of IFG following a 0-2 loss (10-25, 16-25).
Due to a lack of numbers on both teams, clashes in schedules with other IFG sports and a general unwillingness to travel all the way down to U-Town on a separate Saturday to play an ultimately inconsequential match, both teams agreed to decide the result of this match on a coin toss. However, having lost every coin toss before each of our games, the losing streak continued as Dentistry won the coin toss and recorded a victory over us (on paper).
To end off, team captain and author of this article Jai Ho (on contract for service) would like to thank all his teammates for all their efforts put in trainings and in the matches proper. We can be very encouraged by the progress we have achieved as a team this year and our fighting spirit throughout the whole IFG, despite facing very competent opponents. Off the courts, I hope that we have fostered stronger bonds and friendships through all the light-hearted banter, fast food dinners, llaollao treats, and inadvertent tours of the Kent Ridge campus when we got lost from navigating to the NUH carpark.
Special thanks to the graduating year 4s – Andre, Norman, Hyrum, Xian Kai – who stuck around when the team was in its formative years and for giving us guidance and advice at every opportunity, though our resident academic Norman technically still has one more year to play since he is doing his MPP double degree. Rest assured the future of the team is in good hands as we look forward to LawMed and fight for one last hurrah for this amazing bunch of seniors.
Finally, as per volleyball tradition, no article is complete without our matchmaking segment. Here’s a shoutout to Norman, Xian Kai, Shi Kai, Maverick and Jeremy, who were all valuable assets to the team and also coincidentally happen to be single, available and very much ready to mingle #justsaying. If any ladies are interested, please drop me a message and I will do my best to arrange a date over coffee at Reedz. If any guys are interested in having their availability publicised, please join volleyball next year, because volleyball is not just a sport – it is also a platform for true love (
that’s how i impressed vanessa ).
Also, as per another volleyball tradition, we forgot to take a team photo after our matches. So this will have to do, in all our ball-pounding glory.
Written by: “Jai Ho” Foo Jyh Howe (Y2), IFG Volleyball Captain