Bronze at Nationals: Last Game Against the Lancers
The EABH Hawks defeated Our Lady of Mercy’s Lancers in their final game at Final Four. Although their game took place at 8:00 AM and all players were waking up from their sleep after yesterday's fierce games, their sleepiness did not interfere with their drive for victory. The Lancers and Hawks displayed their bond after a year of rivalry, playing a friendly match before warm-ups.
The first point went to the Hawks after an accidental double hit by the Lancers, instantly kickstarting what were previously faint cheers, to truly encouraging ones from parents and fans in the audience. Simultaneously, EABH was playing Nations in Girls Futsal, which explained the disproportionate chants coming from the crowd. Aidan Van Cleef (4) made 2 points in a row with spikes with Eduardo Calixto (6) made points with his impenetrable block. Without breaking the streak they started, team captain, Lucas Chen (12) made an ace with his difficult serve barely caught by the Lancers. On a roll, João Lima (4) and Edward Mason (2) were spiking and passing the ball exactly where they were destined, whether it was perfectly into the setter's hand, or straight into the opposing team’s floor. The team was smart, calm, and composed; they thought out their plays and understood what was necessary to trick the Lancers for the sake of a point. The blocks, no different than how they were already performing, impressively stopped a full-force spike by the Lancers with Edward Mason (2), Lucas Chen (12), and Aidan Van Cleef (4) jumping in sync assembling in the air from across the court. Winning with 21 - 7, the Hawks huddled huffing and chatting in preparation for the next set.
Despite it being a close game, Matheus Cali (14) and João Quintão (10) made two aces that fell from the Lancers fumbling and failing to determine whether the ball was in or out. With Edward Mason’s (2) blocks, the Hawks were able to take the lead with more than double the Lancer’s points. The tense rivalry between the two teams has always left the games incredibly close, however recently it has dissolved and OLM has lessened the intensity and harsh ways of playing, and specific to this game, was lacking their momentum. The Hawk’s libero, Arthur Mello (14) passed all the balls to the setter despite his accident that occurred when he fell in the first game. Continuously making good plays as Eduardo Calixto (6) was rolling tips off the players and Tiago Loures (5) spiking from behind the 3-meter line, the Hawks won the second set with 21 - 14, 7 points ahead.
Once again, the Hawks made the first point and were far ahead of the Lancers which left them at an emotional disadvantage, making it difficult to communicate who was going after the ball. The two teams tied at 5, and the Lancers flipped the game for a few minutes until Pedro Jorge (7) and João Lima (4) came together to block the spikes that came their way. The Hawks held onto their drive throughout the game flip and brushed off all the bad plays, maintaining focus and calm approaches to the game. Throughout the rest of the game, the Lancers were still winning every time the ties broke at 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Lucas Chen (12) made his last serve of the game with a side spin that the Lancers had to scramble for and fail to carry out their play. It was their last chance at opening 2 more sets to win since the Hawks were from 1 set away from winning the entire game 3 - 0. The team’s middles alternated in the game, creating a gap in the close chase to victory, ending the game with a stunning and cheerful 21 - 19. Although the Hawks believe that the win was fun and easy, the athletes expressed their desire for a more competitive game, similar to their past games against the Lancers.
This game was truly a bonding moment between the athletes who were disappointed about not making it to the finals and between two long-time rivals, EABH and OLM. The two schools mixed their girls and boys teams and played before the game, demonstrating the growing sportsmanship and bond between the schools. Once the game was over, the teams decided to hold a fourth match for fun and to play the players who weren’t given as much playing time. Most Hawks said they would’ve enjoyed a fiercer game against the EARJ Panthers who had home advantage and had been beaten by EABH for the first time in decades during the volleyball competition held at the International School of Curitiba back in 2021. Despite the mixed emotions of joy and dissatisfaction after not winning first or second, the Hawks didn’t only bring pride to the EABH community by placing third place, but by qualifying for the national championship itself.