SINGAPORE - A tactical switch after a poor start enabled Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) to clinch their third straight A Division boys volleyball title on Wednesday (May 8) after a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Victoria Junior College (VJC).
Victoria had surprised the defending champions and taken the first set 25-19 at Our Tampines Hub and led 9-5 in the second set before NYJC regrouped and won the next three 27-25, 25-21, 27-25.
NYJC captain Lai Boon Yi, 19, said: "During the first set we weren't communicating enough. The crowd might have intimidatedthem so I told them to start talking more and motivating each other and things improved from there.
"Our coach also told us not to attack blindly and to focus on the shorter players which we didn't do at first. After he spoke to us we started taking advantage of the shorter sideline players and it got better."
Nanyang's setter Nicolas Law, 17, scored the final two points in the fourth set to secure the championship for his school. He said:
"After scoring the winning spike I felt complete, it was really euphoric. I would say it's one of the best moments of my life.
"To me, it didn't matter how I scored the winning point, as long as I scored that point that was the most important thing."
Despite the defeat, what mattered to VJC captain Jireh Tay, 17, was the fighting spirit shown by his team-mates.
"I'm really proud of the team for winning the first set because we lost to Nanyang during the group stages and we didn't even win a set then so, it shows that we have improved a lot.
"After losing two of our main players (to injury and fatigue midway through the fourth set) I think the game went downhill from there because our full team couldn't come together but, we still fought hard and pushed Nanyang to their limit and that's where we did well."
NYJC had earlier beaten Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) 3-0 in the girls' final to clinch their fifth straight A Div title.
Nanyang captain Chloe Koh, 18, said: "There wasn't much pressure on us because we had confidence in ourselves. Winning the title for the fifth time in a row is just a bonus and an honour to the school."
HCI captain Ang Hui Wei, 18, was proud of the effort.She said: "The team this year definitely wasn't the strongest in terms of our skills but this team was definitely strong in terms of our mentality.
"No matter what happened we pushed through together as a team and fought for every point even when we were down and that's the Hwa Chong spirit."