SEA games 2015: Gutsy girls meet target

SEA games 2015: Gutsy girls meet target
The women going through their setting and spiking routine during training at St Hilda’s Secondary’s indoor sports hall.

A rout was in sight.

Two-nil down to Myanmar, Singapore were facing a gargantuan task last night.

And, judging by the first two sets, the majority in the crowd had expected a 3-0 thrashing.

But no.

The Singapore women's volleyball team bounced back to win the next three sets to make it to the semi-finals of the SEA Games.

The preliminary-round match drew large crowds to the OCBC Arena and the cheering turning raucous, as the match dragged on to the full five sets.

Myanmar won the first two sets with a strong display of blocks and spikes, leaving the home crowd worried.

However, the hosts proved everyone wrong.

They made a strong comeback and eventually knocked Myanmar out of the running for a medal by winning 3-2.

The team broke into tears of joy after the win, with Singapore captain Quek Soo Teng expressing delight at their accomplishment.

"Our minimum goal was a bronze medal at this Games, and winning today's game ensures that goal is fulfilled," said Quek, 28.

The last time Singapore's women won a medal at volleyball was way back in 1981, securing a bronze.

This was also the first time in 10 years that they were taking part in volleyball.

"The last time we took part in the SEA Games was 10 years ago. I would say that we are a much younger team with much more potential, and we have our own strengths," said Quek.

"We are more confident now, because we are more used to each other's play.

"We've been focusing on more combination plays and strategies. We can move the game further, because we've been training together for three years."

No doubt, it has been an uphill struggle for the team. They train only part-time, and hence are unable to put in as many practice hours as their Thai or Vietnamese counterparts.

Thailand have long been the powerhouse of volleyball, maintaining their status as undisputed champions from 2001 to 2013.

Today, in the semi-finals, Singapore play Asian No. 6 Vietnam, who have been retaining silver medals for as long as Thailand have been winning gold.

"Regardless, we're going to give of our best. This time, we're more confident and we'll play the game like it's ours," said Quek.

"Tonight, we will look at the video of Vietnam's match, analyse their moves, and adapt accordingly."

Coach Narita Akihiko agreed that improving their technique was crucial to boost their level of play.

"Playing hard is important. Technique is important. The team have been training well in this area. Today, they played very well. The start was a bit rocky but, in the end, they did it," the 70-year-old Japanese said proudly.

Narita also coaches the Singapore men's team, who lost 3-0 to Vietnam yesterday afternoon.

aschoon@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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