Freezone were represented by two teams and more at the State Cup Illawarra tournament 4th/5th May, and acquitted themselves exceptionally well with a great success in Division 2, bringing home both the Gold and Silver Medals!
The 2 day tournament had 3 men’s divisions with two Freezone teams (FZ Alpha and FZ Pheonix – Antwerp bound team) entered in the Division 2 draw. The draw may have had only 4 teams but there was still enough competition and play to challenge and ensure the teams had to come up with the goods on the day.
Funnily enough on the first day, the 2 Freezone teams faced off on court 4, and whilst there was no real rivalry, a tiny bit of pride was involved in facing off over the net. FZ Phoenix came off better in this encounter, starting strong and not letting go of the momentum of the match, running out victors in straight sets, though it was harrowing in the 2nd set when Alpha changed strategy and were makinga a comeback. FZ Phoenix fared well in all 3 of their matches on the first day losing only one closely contested match to the Vladboys who were looking strong to get to the final.
FZ Alpha had the early shift of an 8am game on the Sunday and despite a rather late and enjoyable dinner out the night before, they must have re-grouped as they came together and defeated the Vladboys in straight sets on the Sunday morning, which they needed to do to push through their pool position beyond 3rd place
This set up an ALL FREEZONE final on the Sunday and the tension was not high but was definetly there as both teams were keen to prove their worth. The game was very much a result of the training that the State Squad have been doing with Joe Sleiman of Baulkham Hills Volleyball club. The positioning and vocabulary of shots that Joe has been working on with the squad proved valuable in the final as both teams traded cheeky shots and long rallies were ensuing.
Covering and scrambling were definetly the flavour of the match, with many exchanges testing the nerve and steadiness of both teams. The 2nd set was very tight after FZ Phoenix took the first and FZ Alpha were mounting a tight comeback, edging ahead early in the set. FZ Phoenix were talking it up on court and calling shots and passes from all over the court, something Joe has been working hard on getting us to be better at. Phoenix were also benefiting well from the dexterity and cheekiness of Yuthakarn Chakping (Coco) who was pushing Alpha all over the court. FZ Phoenix got a run of points at 16-18 and never held off keeping on the pressure with some well aimed (if delicate) shots that proved effective, running out eventual winners 25-18 in the 2nd.
The tournament was a great success as Freezone continues to field teams in the State Cup league and get experience at this level of competition. With the directed training of Joe, the squad is beginning to be able to pull together as a team and achieve medal placings at this level.