Freespirit had an exhilarating and successful time at Volleyball ACT’s Good Neighbour tournament in November 2012. Freespirit played in Mens Division 5 and whilst faced with a lively and competitive field, they prevailed in a nail-bitingly close final over 4 sets to take a well deserved gold medal.
The team composition was in a state of some flux in the weeks leading up to the competition, but settled into a solid combination by the opening morning of competition. Freespirit played a 5-1 combination with the ever reliable Julias setting. Dion and Ross played middle block and bothered some of the better hitters on the opposite side. Dion was able to hang in the air for indefinite lengths of time and stopped many balls from traversing the net. Clem, who played libero for Dion and Ross in their back court rotations, was formidable and set up numerous winning plays with pinpoint passes to Julius. The newly arrived Higo, together with Tian and Benny, were outside hitters and all pushed the opposition. Higo was so strong that when he hit the ball, it stayed hit. Fa and Anni played universal opposite Julias. Fa’s height gave him an advantage on the front court whilst Anani controlled the back court, especially with her serves.
Unfortunately Tommy was unable to play due to a pinky injury yet, despite this setback, also proved to be a valuable member of the team. Tommy took on the role of team official and was able to guide, direct, encourage, motivate and get the best out of the team. Of particular note was Tommy’s keen sense of observation and ability to call timely time-outs, provide constructive feedback and successful strategies for the next point at critical times. More on this point later.
Big Momma Julias was tireless in his team organisation and arrangements, facilitating the team bonding which began on the Friday night as they travelled together to Canberra in ‘Priscilla’ the minibus. Big Momma arranged to pick everyone up, organised pizza for all for the trip down, congee for those convalescing and the accommodation. A leisurely start saw Freespirit playing their first match at 1 pm after visiting some of the other venues to watch the Division 2 and 4 guys. Freespirit were clinical in their disposal of their first opponent, BVH Sparta, then after a bit of a surprise first set loss to Wagga Wolves, took the second set and ran out of time in the third resulting in a draw. Freespirit’s third match was against a Baulkham Hills team, the Diggers, who they ultimately met in the gold medal final. Freespirit were on fire in this match, and convincingly won the first 2 sets before slipping a bit in the third.
Saturday night was social and following dinner in Manuka saw many from all the teams out late at Cube nightclub. The locals are still talking about the inundation from those Sydneysiders who like to party.
Sunday morning saw a 9 am start for duty, but unfortunately it was a slow start resulting in some tense moments. ‘Priscillla’ the minibus was being contrary and would not start so the team had to quickly get to the match venue by alternative means just in time to do duty thereby avoiding being penalised and losing valuable match points which would have cost them the gold medal berth.
Freespirit’s last round robin match was against bottom of the pool Red Setters and, after winning the first set comfortably 25/16, made a bit of a mess of the second to scrape through 25/23 to secure the win. Tommy was pivotal in his coaching and time-out calls.
Freespirit played in the gold medal final against the Diggers. After a slow start, Freespirit clawed back some points to reach a 23/25 loss in the first set, but with the scoreline looking much more respectable than how they actually played. However with some grit, determination, teamwork and most importantly some fun and enjoyment on court, Freespirit looked much more solid with a 25/22 win in the second set and controlled the match in the third 25/15. The fourth set went back and forth, but with the whole team pulling together, and some big hits from Higo, Freespirit won the fourth, and the match, 28/26 on the third match point.
Some highlights and take home messages: The play of the match for Freespirit was when Dion unexpectedly found himself with the second hit and set Julias playing front court in position 2, from which Julius spiked the ball hard to land within the 3 metre line thereby winning the point – notwithstanding some assistance by the net cord catching the ball making it drop straight down. Secondly, having a knowledgeable, decisive and respected team official, in this case the injured Tommy, handling team lists, positions, rotations, subbing and the all-important time outs and providing strategic decisions was a factor in Freespirit’s win. Where possible, Freezone teams would do well to utilise or appoint such a person if factors permit. Lastly, the team that laughs and plays together has a great time and, in this case, wins together.
Freespirit are looking forward to the Australia Day tournament hosted by Melbourne Spikers. See you in 2013.