Fresh Approach exacted sweet revenge on eliminations round tormentor Old School when it mattered the most to win the championship of the Agape Christian School’s Back-to-School Co-ed Volleyball Tournament last Saturday at the Agape Gymnasium along Middle Road in Gualo Rai.
After losing to Old School in two tightly fought sets last Friday, 24-26, 23-25, Fresh Approach players put their collective heads together and game-planned for a more positive result next time they face the stacked squad, knowing too well that the path to the tournament championship would go through Old School.
And they were right, as Fresh Approach and Old School indeed met each other in the winner-or-go home championship match as the Top 2 teams after the eliminations.
In the first set, Fresh Approach capitalized on their speed to negate power-hitter Ko Kumuch’s powerful spikes. Their activity on defense plus timely hits from Steven Balakrishna and Jerome Manzon led them to a surprisingly east 25-15 win.
Old School tried hard to force a third set and buckled down to work at the start of the second set. They made sure Kumuch would get his chances in the net and he obliged his teammates by tattooing several spikes on the floor. But Fresh Approach adjusted mid-set and double-teamed the over 6-foot spiker every time he was near the net.
It was nip-and-tuck all throughout what wound up to be the final set, but in the end Fresh Approach put out all the stops to eke out a 25-22 second set win to take home the BTS tourney title.
Bryan Chlarson said Fresh Approach winning the championship was a total team effort and happened because they were humbled when they lost to the same team just a day before.
“I want to first say thank you to John Saludez for sponsoring us. They beat us yesterday in two sets. We had a lot of errors. From that loss, we really learned our lesson and we made a plan especially for them. We just wanted to make sure their ace spiker, Ko, would be contained. He’s really our main problem. We did it tonight so we won the championship,” he said.
Chlarson also pointed to the play of their women players as providing Fresh Approach the edge in the finals.
“Our women players are really agile and can really play. It’s definitely one of the factors and I would like to thank them and all my players for getting us this win.
He said more than the championship medals that every member of the team got, winning the first 6×6 indoor volleyball tournament since the COVID-19 pandemic began gave them the all-important bragging rights.
“We’ve always played against them in open gym. So it’s like we showed that we’re the better team by winning this tournament,” he said.
The rest of Fresh Approach includes Nilo Calimag, John Matias, Jerry Saures, Jasper Perez, Iszel Estevez, Kat Saures, and Alysa Baquilles.
Aside from the towering Kumuch, Old School was made up of captain Mei Rengiil, Yohei Iwashita, Nak Nakashima, Ryan Camacho, Typhoon Saito, Mike Omar, Ana Ina, and Nakashima Atalig.
Fresh Approach began its campaign Thursday with a 25-20, 28-26 heart-pounding win over Agape’s Yang Gang. They followed that up with a 25-10, 25-16 triumph over New Kids on the Block on Friday, before losing the aforementioned match against Old School.
They bounced back the next day on Saturday, winning against Nothing But Net, 25-13, 25-20, and then got the better of The Big Ducks 2.0, 25-14, 25-16. Ashes were the next team they victimized to the tune of 25-11, 25-7. A win over Skr-Skr, 25-12, 25-12, then a repeat over Ashes, 25-10, 25-19, assured them a place in the championship round against Old School.
Old School, meanwhile, had a perfect record coming in the finals. They started things off on Thursday with a 25-22, 25-19 shellacking of The Big Ducks 2.0 before recording the same score in a win against Ashes.
On Friday, Old School beat Fresh Approach and ran their winning streak to four straight with a tough 0-25, 25-17, 15-3 win over New Kids on the Block on Saturday. Next up was Skr-Skr which they beat 25-16, 25-14. They then dispatched Agape’s Yang Gang, 25-20, 25-15, and then recorded back-to-back wins over New Kids on the Block, 25-20, 25-11 and 25-19, 25-8, to reach the finals as the top seed.