Having only won one game so far this season, the varsity boys volleyball team looked to end the season with a victory in their last home game against Gyeonggi Suwon International School (GSIS) Knights on Oct. 10. Coming together as a team by communicating and playing diligently, the boys enter the Association of International Schools in Asia (AISA) tournament with a three set victory over GSIS.
The game began with Kyle Bae (12), Joon Lee (12), Togo Tamura (12), Thomas Cha (12), Julian Kim (11) and Jaewon Kim (10) on the court with the Knights serving first. After the Tigers won the first point, the team rallied to a 7-2 lead with well-executed plays. Several minutes into the game, the Tigers scored four consecutive points with several spikes, leading up to the opposite team to call a timeout. Although the Knights tightened their defense, the Tigers maintained its lead.
Due to Nick Yeo (10) absence from the first set due to his multiple injuries, Thomas took a bigger role in setting up plays for the team. With the score tied at 14, Thomas’ set the ball for Julian and Kyle’s spikes and had SIS take the lead, 19-16. After Kyle’s successful spike, GSIS head coach called a timeout. Although the Knights were able to score a point with a serve, it was not enough to beat the Tigers. With David Nam (12) saving, Thomas setting and Togo spiking the ball, the Tigers secured the first set with a 25 to 17 victory.
The Tigers continued their dominating presence at the start of the second set with four consecutive blocks by Julian. Defensive blocks and spikes by Togo, Julian, Jake Kim (11) and Jaewon gave the team an 11-1 lead. Down by 10 points and coming out of a timeout, the Knights aggressively tried to score points, but its efforts did not see immediate impact, with the Tigers taking a 22-14 lead. But the opposing team eventually gained momentum, pushing the score to 24-22. In response, the Tigers called a timeout to focus and score the final point to victory. SIS closed the set with a 25-22 victory due to a mistake by a Knight player.
After winning the first two sets, the Tigers came out strong once again, taking a 14-3 lead with Julian’s four consecutive serves, bringing the team closer to victory. However, as the Tigers struggled to communicate, the Knights scored consecutive points, bringing the score to 14-8. Despite this momentum, the opposing team was able to score eight more points before Julian’s block of the Knights’ spike ended the game, with a final score of 25-16.
“We did not only improve as individuals but also as a team,” Jaewon said. “If you compare our first game to our last one, you would think that we were a whole different team. Although it sounds cliché, the team grew together as a family and now we know where a certain player best likes to get the ball–our plays have become deadlier. We know we haven’t done the best in the regular season, but with the momentum from last game, we hope to rank high in AISA.”