Article contributed by John Chan Chia Yoong and Lee Guan Tong, Co–Conveners for Volleyball, Bar Council Sports Committee; and photos by Florence Laway, Senior Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
The Malaysian Bar Volleyball Team for the Golden Jubilee Malaysia/Singapore Bench and Bar Games 2019 comprised nine players with vast winning experience in the Games. We welcomed three new faces in Cyrus Lim Kia Chun and Yap Yung Sheng, and Tan Ling Sing (the only pupil in chambers in the Team).
Our training for the Games started almost immediately after welcoming the new year. Overall, we had 16 training sessions (including four extra weeknight sessions). Our coach in his second season with the Team continued with his training regime and vision to improve the Team’s playing standards. The Team was treated to intense and advanced level drills session after session. Missing some experienced players this year, the Team knew they had to buck up, train harder and sharpen their skills. This is especially after witnessing how well the Singapore Team performed in the Annual Tripartite Volleyball Games between the Malaysian Bar, Law Society of Singapore and Law Society of Hong Kong in November 2018.
On the game day, the Team arrived at the Delta Sports Hall with plenty of time to prepare ourselves and thoroughly warm up. The match started with Malaysia serving first. After Singapore returned the ball harmlessly to the Malaysian side, we took the first point thanks to a killer spike by our youngest–at–heart player, Manmohan Singh Kang. Both teams were neck and neck until the score of 10–10 before Malaysia pulled away to 12–17. Singapore then found their way back to 19–21. At this point, Manmohan Singh Kang lost his balance and ruptured his right Achilles when attempting to jump and spike the ball a second time after his earlier spike was blocked and came back to our side of the court. He had to be substituted. However, Manmohan’s fate did not hamper our momentum or morale and Malaysia promptly took the set 20–25.
The second set proved to be more competitive as Singapore came back stronger, leading 9–6 before we found our way back and overtook them 14–16. Despite our point–earning spikes by Cyrus Lim Kia Chun and Lim Guan Tong and a good spell of teamwork, Singapore kept coming back. With a bit more luck on their side, Singapore won the second set 25–23.
In the third set, Malaysia got off to a flying start with a 0–5 lead. However, Malaysia threw away the lead and Singapore capitalised by overtaking Malaysia at 10–9. Singapore maintained their lead and inched away to the biggest gap at 20–15 while we struggled to emulate our form in the first and second sets. Plagued by pervasive and confidence–depleting lapses, Malaysia lost the third set 25–20.
Now it was Malaysia’s turn to do a comeback with a vengeance in the fourth set, if one were to look at the transcript of the previous encounters. That we did and surged ahead to 5–12 and then 8–18 and we never looked back. Towards the end of the set, Malaysia was playing with four women and two men on court. Malaysia captured the fourth set with a comfortable score of 14–25 and on a high note.
With the overall score tied 2–2, it came down to the deciding rubber set. The first team to reach 15 points wins. With Malaysia’s streak of strong service and reliable defence, we pushed our way through to lead 1–9. Tan Ling Sing served eight times in a row while both John Chan Chia Yoong and Wong Jen Ru received two of Singapore’s top spiker, Ajit Singh’s strong hits with ease. Singapore did try to claw its way back reaching 10–12 but ultimately could not deny Malaysia securing the win 10–15 and its record eighth consecutive win.
Well done to Singapore for putting up a tough fight to the end as always and putting the Malaysians to task after the 2–1 lead. The Bench and Bar Games volleyball match between the two countries continue to be exciting and nerve–wracking every year.
Special thanks to Handal Resources Bhd who has graciously agreed to be the primary sponsor of the Malaysian Bar Volleyball Team this year and a couple of years to come.
The Malaysian Bar Volleyball Team would also like to express its heartfelt gratitude to the ardent supporters who were always there giving us the loudest of cheers and encouragement. The match was also graced with the presence of our head of delegation, Justice David Wong Dak Wah, Chief Judge of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak. In his speech at the Gala Dinner, his Lordship highlighted his delight in watching the exciting game and commented that “the moves that the Malaysian Bar was playing was like watching ESPN”.
(Note: All scores are presented in the sequence of Singapore–Malaysia)