We came and saw and conquered. The finals day play has come and gone and we are all very worn out after 4 days of hard hitting volleyball. Freezone has made a great reputation for itself with its two teams here in Antwerp, as well as making new friendships and getting the club name out there in the International Circuit.
Kinnaree had a great start against Toronto Hits and Giggles in their opening match. Even with a little confusion intially with some team members getting caught late. Luckily, they recruited another player from another team, but it worked well with the boys running the first set all on their own 25/10.
The second set saw the team return to a full compliment but the Toronto team had managed to regroup and changed their tactics, putting a triple block on Gee to shut down the middle attack. It seemed to work, though the set was tight all the way, ending on the “final point” at 27/25. The Toronto boys winning with a nail biting finish.
Down to the third set, the boys were composed and the rallies were long exchanges as the two teams battled to get a lead on. Toronto got away early but Kinnaree edged them back. Some big hits from the Toronto outside were the difference and they edged Kinnaree out in the last set on yet another ‘final point’ 16/14.
Their 2nd game was a healthier result against the Hot Helsinki B team. They had beaten these guys 2-0 in the pool division so the boys were quietly ready to take on the Finns and take the game to them. The team returned to form after a small, shaky start with some HUGE hitting from Tommy Yap in the outside. The boys were putting in their combinations and using the quick plays effectively.
The 2nd set they got off to an early lead, again using the block and hitting off the defence. Always keeping their nose in front, they were hitting sensibly, waiting for the hits when they were there. The Finns were never really able to catch up and the boys were convincing winners on the 2nd set – 25/17
The Kinnaree final match was against Netzo Amsterdam, but unfortunately we were unable to cheer them on as we were called to the court for our final game. They won in straight sets 25/18 25/23 with a tight second set but thankfully finished on a winning note. The boys ended up in 4th place in the B+ pool narrowly missing out on a medal, but really did give their all to the competition and represented Freezone among the top level teams just below A Grade.
Phoenix had a cracker of a day today, taking out the GOLD medal in the C+ division with an undefeated sweep of the pool. 6 wins and 0 losses with not a single set lost for the finals round of the competition. We couldn’t be happier. 10 out of 12 games were won and we even beat the silver medallists in the B Grade division! It was also wonderful to be joined on court by David Worner from Canberra, who sprained his ankle on Monday, but came in for the three games today.
Our first opponents were a rather fresh, young and confident Belgium United team. Fresh faced and eager, we met them in the 9am game and we were cautious that maybe this would be our breaking game. However, we took the game to them, blocking down their hitters and some brilliant back court work and keeping the ball alive no matter what happened. We took the lead and never held off, applying pressure to win the first set and then crush them in the 2nd set 25/14. And with our average age at 43, we were just slightly happy about that.
Our second game was against the Texas Tumbleweeds. High on the victory over Belgium, we made a good start and leapt away to a convincing lead in the opening set. It wasn’t all easy as they were making some easy points off tips to the open court behind the block. Fortunately we noted the tactic and changed to a single block and were able to maintain our lead. It was all looking good to continue our winning run, but in the 2nd set the Texans began to scramble and were picking up everything we were throwing at them. We were still making headway but they did make a late surge in the 2nd set, pegging us back to within 4 points. Fortunately we got some momentum back with Julias, Adam and Dion connecting well in attack and getting us to a victorious 25/17 25/16
We then had a very long wait – til almost 5:30 when we finally faced the Melbourne Spikers Ice Team for our final game. By some calculation we were rather sure that we already had the gold medal in the bag, but we were going for a clean sweep so there was no sitting back.
It was hard to generate some energy after a near 4hour wait but we did manage to keep our momentum going. The Ice changed their rotation, putting Paul Lam into the outside hitter position, which they used very well. But with David and Ross double blocking on the outside, he was kept at bay.
Our second set was a test of will. The venue was being packed up around us, every other game except 1 was finished, teams were leaving and we had to close this out. Safe shots were the theory. Few of us were hitting down instead, opening up holes in the back court, pushing the ball to the corners. Keeping the energy up was the main issue. Closing out the set at 25/16 was a good lead but it was a matter of keeping it going right to the end and a clean sweep of the pool.
Special mention also to our sister club the Melbourne Spikers who also fielded two teams in the competition. Melbourne Spikers Justice League finished with a bronze medal in the B Grade division and Melbourne Spikers Ice placed 5th in the C+ Division. A great Aussie effort all round.
Overall it’s been a great tournament, with many friendships formed and rejuvenated and old connections re-established. We would like to thank Bram and Geert for their amazing organisation and smooth running of the tournament. So many matches and everything achieved with quiet efficiency, enjoyment, challenge and interaction.
Many thanks to everyone who sent messages via the Facebook posts and responses to the posts. We look forward to the next Asia-Pacific Regional Outgames in May 2014 in Darwin and then the next World Outgames in 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida.
LOVE UNITED, we love you!