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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Chen

EABH v. Nations: Finding the fun in tense games

April 5th, 8:00AM

After an unexpected loss to the Falcons from The British School of Rio de Janeiro earlier today, the Hawks didn’t let their spirits drop. During lunch, the boys joked around the cafeteria pretending it was Edward (Ted) Mason’s (8) birthday and Eduardo Calixto (6)---or Dudu---slapping the table with João Lima (10). Meanwhile, the other table had different methods of getting over their past loss, such as getting philosophical with their dreams and making fake pitches to Shark Tank investors. They came up with various ideas such as Invisalign with grills, adjustable soccer cleats, and a basketball bag. Spirits were definitely healed; so much so that Pedro Jorge (7) started the game dancing around and making the entire team laugh, while the Nations Cougars remained tense that EABH seemed so calm.

The Hawks had the beginning serve, and they valiantly fought for the first point of the match until Pedro spiked the ball straight into the floor in the first minute. Aidan Van Cleef (4) scored two whole aces, immediately pushing the Hawks into the lead by three points. The Cougars called for a timeout immediately after to attempt to have their players get their heads back into the game. Such strategy initially did not work, as their balls continuously fell out of the court; however, they began to catch up when João Lima’s spike hit the net and Tiago Loures (5) missed the balls that came his way. The score had reached 6-5, which left the crowd incredibly loud. Three whole schools were cheering against the Hawks, which could have left a disproportionate level of cheers; however, the audience supporting EABH definitely did not disappoint. There were chants with each individual player’s names spelled out and inside jokes being turned into encouragement. Chants of “D-U-D and U, C-A-L-I-X-T-O, Dudu! Calixto!” and “J-O-A-O, L-I-M-A, João! Lima!” served as the soundtrack for successful serves and spikes. When Mathieu Lessage (15), or Mafu, entered the court as a benched reserve, the audience immediately encouraged him with a “Maaatioooo”, his nickname given by his recently graduated sister. The score remained with a two-point difference for the Hawks until the referees began handing points over to the Cougars despite disagreement from the entire crowd. In anger, those watching began yelling at the referees until they were reminded that neither the crowd nor the players apart from the captain are allowed to negotiate with them. João Lima, our co-captain, simply turned around with a petty brush off the refs and told the team to shake it off and just focus on scoring more points. 

Dudu, one of the strongest arms of the team, spiked the ball straight into the Cougars’ side of the court, which made all players stumble to catch his spinning ball. With the point going to the Hawks, João Lima was up to serve, and as the audience chanted his name spelled out, he immediately aced it, shining a smirk to his crowd. The Hawks then possessed the lead by double the points the Cougars had, with 12-6. Their motivation was back, and tension had finally left their shoulders. Pedro Almeida (11), reserve libero, sprinted off the court to catch the balls that could have potentially become losses for the Hawks. Every move that EABH had and brilliantly executed intimidated the opposing team. When João Lima went to spike once again as the star of this game, a player on the other side of the net stumbled forward and touched the net, which automatically gave the Hawks the point. As Tiago got back into the court, he immediately faced a strong serve, which punctured his hands above his head. With a yell, he shook off all the bad energy that may have arisen and continued playing. Aidan made witty touches on the net and Pedro Jorge spiked strongly and straight down, keeping the team motivated. Tiago came back strong with a similar touch that tricked the opposing team into a double touch. The score reached 19-13 after Pedro spiked off of the other team’s pass, truly utilizing everything in his power to score points. Throughout this entire game, the chants didn’t stop once; so much so that Coach Jill began having fun with her own chants and yelled “you’re fired!” at Aidan after a little mistake. The set ended with a victorious 21-15, a six-point lead for EABH.

The second set was scary. Just how the Hawks began by winning and rode that victory until the end of the set, the Cougars did the same: they opened the set with a 1-2, despite Dudu’s amazing saves. The plays were fast and difficult to catch up to, leaving both schools incredibly tense. This set defined if the boys would have to go for a third set and immediately lose their spot in qualifications for Nationals, which will be hosted at EABH this year. The referees once again called in a ball that appeared to be out to the entire team and audience, sparking more outrage. In response, in one single play Aidan and Ted tipped the ball over the net, which showed how the Cougars were being extra attentive to their plays. Tiago came back strong once again with dives that made up for his past mistakes. Despite the score being at 7-13, the crowd continued to chant at the boys out of encouragement. While everyone waited for the referee to sort out a score correction, Joshua Durchfort (18) spinned the ball on his fingers, making the entire crowd go “oolaalaa”. This, however, might have potentially brewed distraction, since Nations reached 18 points and Mafu served without the whistle even blowing. Nonetheless, that did not interrupt him whatsoever, as he brushed it off and aced his serve right after. Unfortunately, Ted and Dudu, known to be an iron wall with their blocks, were not strong enough to stop the Cougar’s spike. Points until loss for the Hawks were scarce, which brought the boys and the crowd to go completely silent and be super diligent of every ball that was out for the Cougars. The Hawks were catching up with 16-20, with Tiago diving after the ball several times. Sadly, the win was bound to go to the Cougars, them being one point away, and João Lima double-touched the ball. The score was now 1-1 for sets, and everything relied on the last one.  

The third set began. Aidan started it with an ace and a yellow card immediately went to the Cougars. Despite the tension and perhaps existing will to cheer for that callout, the Hawks demonstrated good sportsmanship and avoided any negative cheering. Following this game’s trend the Hawks were in the lead with 5-2 when the opposing team’s coach called for a timeout. At this point, other schools began pouring in to see the Hawks play against the Cougars. An alleged third set sounded interesting to them the other schools have been smack-talking the Hawks this season for losing graduated players Lucas Chen, João Vitor Quintão, and Lincoln Pfile. With EABH in the lead with 8-3, the teams switched sides of the court to have an even amount of playing time on both sides. Confident that they would win, the audience brought the chanting back. Mafu was serving once again, which made the crowd scream “Matio is awake!” as he is infamous for falling asleep everywhere he goes. The air was no longer so tense and was instead filled with joy. The opposing team, however, tried to shut down the smell of upcoming victory with chants towards the Hawks’ supporters and being notoriously stickle about the crowd rules. The score had reached 11-7, four points away for the Hawks to win. Despite Dudu missing his serve, João Lima picked the momentum back up with a spike and Hawkie the Hawk leading the gradient “Hawks!” chant. At 14-8 the boys made five entire spikes all within the same play and being met by the strongest defense anyone has seen from Nations yet---until João Lima scored the match point with one final spike that the Cougars gave into. 

According to an interview with starting libero Arthur and captain Aidan, the team's spirits were definitely lifted and this game was unexpected to go to a third set because of how well they were playing in the beginning. Addressing the negative talk there has been surrounding EABH’s name this season, Aidan said that many people are simply upset that a school as small as ours is capable of playing so well. While acknowledging that there have been some losses in the seniors who graduated, Arthur said that he is just glad that the team still has good chemistry and good communication. In regards to the fun cheers that the audience came up with, the two said that “it was great considering we had three schools cheering against us.” 

When asked about what the Hawks want to tell the other teams for future games, Aidan says “the other school should be worried about us,” opening a lingering question of how rough the boys are going to be in the next games. Arthur Mello finished off the interview by saying in full truth that “our biggest opponent in the future is going to be ourselves and not the other school,” a powerful statement that adds to the suspense all schools are getting after this game.

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