I have been playing volleyball since I was 12 years old. I have always enjoyed the sport and now I play it on a varsity level. Volleyball season was when I spent the majority of my afterschool time in the gym. The 2013 to 2014 academic year was an important year for our volleyball team because all of the major tournaments, the Bangkok International School Athletic Conference (BISAC) and the South East Asian School Athletic Conference (SEASAC), were held at NIST. BISAC is a local competition where the international schools of Bangkok compete for the Champions title. SEASAC is a much bigger gathering where 12 different schools from South East Asia come together to compete for the SEASAC Champions title. This was the first SEASAC Volleyball that was held at NIST since 2008. This meant that we had to train hard and give it our best in order to win back the trophy. Everyone on the team remembered what happened two years ago at SEASAC in Hong Kong. We lost to our rival team RIS, another international school in Bangkok and it was a very sad moment. I was sure that none of us wanted a repeat of that on our home court so everyone trained hard to achieve our goal: to win back our SEASAC trophy.
Our training sessions were hard. We would start our training sessions with a 10 lap jog around the field. This, according to our coach, was to improve our endurance. If you thought that volleyball seems like a sport that doesn’t require endurance, you are very much mistaken. Games can sometimes lasts two hours long and in order to be able to play that duration, our endurance must be trained. It was challenging to run every time before training, but everyone was there to do it in order to improve.
I am the libero on the team and have been playing this position for 3 years now. The word libero, meaning “free” in Italian. The libero is the player who specializes in defensive skills and who always wears the different color shirt. As the defensive player, I have the important task of receiving the first touch which would eventually determine the outcome of the play. If it is a good first touch, then the setter can give a good set and the spiker can finish the job. However if the touch is bad, then the play could fail giving the other team another chance to attack.
As this is a specialty position, I get specialized training in defense. The defensive drills are, at times, very tiring and often very repetitive in order to develop muscle memory. It involves the use of leg muscles and the lactic acid build up can be quite painful. But as the season went on, I gradually became better.
There were a few drills that were very fun to do. There is a drill called “Lai Bon” in Thai, which can be translated to “Chase the Ball” in English. The drill means exactly what the name implies. My coach threw balls in different directions of the court and I ran after each ball and touch the ball. This might sound simple at first but after the first few balls, your legs starts to get very heavy. In order to pass, I needed to touch 10 balls in a row. If I missed 1, then it was minus a touch. Sometimes when I got a bad start, I would end up with negative touches. The aim of this drill was to have the ability to regain control of the ball even when it was flying out of the court. From this drill, I was able to train myself to get a sudden burst of energy to get the ball and have another chance at the point. Another drill that I did was the spike receiving drill. My coach stood on a table and spiked the ball over the net . It was a very scary drill to do and the spikes were very hard to get and sometimes it was painful. The aim of this drill was for me to be able to move into the right position to receive the ball. This trained my reaction time and helped me anticipate what sort of balls, either a spike or a tip, the other team would give. It built up my resilience to the hard spikes that I could face in the future.
At the end of the season everyone’s skills improved like crazy. If you were to compare my team at the start of the season and my team at the end of the season, you would see such a huge difference. We ended up beating RIS (another international school in Bangkok and our rival in volleyball) and winning SEASAC on our home court. This was my first SEASAC champion and the emotions of becoming champions were quite hard to describe. I also got the SEASAC MVP award. This is truly a special award for me as it would keep me motivated in this sport.
I enjoyed playing volleyball with my team. I am grateful to thank Khun Larn and Khun Keak, my wonderful coaches for the season, for motivating the team when times were down and pushing our team to the limits. We had many ups and downs during the season but this allowed us to learn from each other and eventually growed together as a team. We truly became one big family.