Grit and gold in Suzhou
Written by Endria Tai
The RCHK girls’ and boys’ under-20 volleyball teams claimed gold and bronze respectively in the Red Division Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS) Volleyball Tournament held in Suzhou, China from the 25th-27th of October.
This is the first time the Black Kites have participated in a sporting event after being promoted to the highest division in the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS), the red division. Other schools in this division include Dulwich College Shanghai (DCS), Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), Suzhou Singapore International School, QSI International School of Shenzhen (QSIS), and Beijing BISS International School (BISS).
The girls’ remained undefeated during the round-robin stage of the competition, winning all the games 2-0, and making it through the semifinals and finals with the same result. This is the third consecutive ACAMIS championship victory for the girls’.
The boys’ team won against BISS and DCS in the round-robin competition but lost to the three other schools in close games, losing to SSIS and DCB 1-2 and QSI 0-2. They were able to pull through in the bronze medal match where they faced off against SSIS, a team that they had previously lost to.
In the girls’ gold medal match, while the Black Kites had won against SSIS 2-0 during the round-robin stage, there was a point at which they were losing 8-17 in the first set. “I’d never felt so nervous in my life before,” outside hitter Qi Qi Liu said. “It felt like we were doing all the right things but the ball just wasn’t hitting the ground on their side of the court.”
There was another dramatic turnaround in the second set, with the Black Kites losing 0-7 right off the bat, but turning the game around to win 25-22 and therefore winning the finals 2-0. “We were able to come back with our mentality,” said middle hitter Sarah Lam. “Volleyball is such a mental game, and the fact that we recognized that the only time we could play our best is when we were all hyped up and had our ‘heads in the game’ was important.”
The coach of the girls’ team was Stacey Leung, and she was very impressed with her team’s performance throughout this season. “The three-day tournament challenged the players’ physical and mental endurance. Their gold-medal game demonstrated the team’s resiliency. At two stages of the match, our team was down by seven-plus points,” she said. “This is a point of a match where most teams would resign themselves to losing the set - instead, the team rallied and bolstered their support for each other and encouraged each other to not settle and not give up, playing their best game one point at a time.”
“I’m so proud of this team!” Leung added. “They are a true embodiment of what it means to be champions.”
The boys’ team felt regretful as they were unable to defend their title from last year. However, vice-captain Brian Chia believes it was a “successful” and “fun” tournament. “I’m proud of all the guys on the team,” he said. “On the court, even if we had issues, we made unforgettable memories off-court, and it was great meeting all the new people playing volleyball, and it was a very good experience overall.”
Five athletes from Renaissance College were recognized as members of the all-star team, with three from the girls’ team and two from the boys’. They were Sarah Lam, Julia Chia and Endria Tai for the girls’, and Brian Chia and Marco Yan for the boys’.
For the graduating Y13’s, this tournament has been a bittersweet experience. “I’ve played with this team for five years and I’ll always remember them,” senior Angel Lee said. “They’re not only my teammates but my sisters and my family.”