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  • Writer's pictureTiago Loures

EARJ vs OLM: The Lancers Slay The Panthers!

In the first volleyball game of the 2024 volleyball and futsal Final Four Tournament, EARJ and OLM’s girls' volleyball teams participated in a fierce battle to decide who would be going to the final. While EARJ qualified after winning the Big 8 tournament, OLM only managed to be eligible because they got third in the ISSL tournament. The St. Paul's girls' volleyball team, who got second place, couldn't attend the Final Four Tournament in Belo Horizonte. 

Despite OLM being the underdog in this match, the Lancers were not intimidated and started the game with a winning mindset. They began imposing their ability over the Panthers and hit each ball straight toward the ground. OLM’s Letícia M. (2) started the game extremely well and kept attacking through EARJ’s block. Whether it be a pipe or a normal outside hit, OLM was hitting all balls strongly toward the ground, leaving the Panthers unable to react. EARJ became very nervous since they couldn't play their game and lost the first set by 21 - 7. 

EARJ’s coach was visibly frustrated and, in the interval, she urged her players to enter the game with a different mindset: the same mindset that made them win the Big 8 tournament. Nevertheless, OLM continued playing exceptionally well by striking each set using their brains, and muscles, and saving each ball as if it were the last. EARJ was playing noticeably better in the second set, but the momentum acquired by OLM in the first set made them a tremendously difficult team to face. The Panthers were putting in the work and making it a hard game for the Lancers, but eventually, the score became 20 - 18 for OLM. Ziana R. (9) from EARJ would have to make two consecutive serves that, if missed, would give the set to OLM. However, Ziana did not succumb to the pressure of the moment and managed to pass the ball to the other side twice, and in both instances, OLM made mistakes that they were not making in previous moments of the game. EARJ tied the game, leaving the scoreboard at 20 - 20. Despite this, the Lancers were not intimidated by the Panther’s leap and managed to make the game 22 - 20, after a missed hit from one of EARJ’s players. 

After the contested second set, it was expected that OLM would gain even more momentum while EARJ would lose what it achieved in the second set, but the Panthers were fierce and managed to start the third set winning by 8-5. Nevertheless, OLM’s Letícia M viciously wanted her team to win and kept striking each ball with power and intelligence. EARJ’s coach recognized that Letícia was hitting each ball diagonally, so she instructed her players to focus on blocking the diagonal. Because of this, EARJ’s center, Manuela L. (16), excellently blocked Letícia and continued her team’s lead. Letícia was unwilling to accept being blocked and managed to hit the ball through Manuela’s arms right after. With Letícia determined to prove herself, OLM rose in the game and the Panthers fell behind. Despite their best efforts, EARJ couldn't react and ended up losing the set 21 - 15, making OLM head to the final in an impeccable 3 - 0 win.

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