Smashing win for Pui Ching
TUCKED AWAY in a corner behind the Indoor Games Hall at Choi Hung Road Park, the Inter-School Beach Volleyball Championships reached a stormy climax when Eric Cheng Wai-ho of Pui Ching Middle School pummelled the winning spike under ominous skies on Sunday.
It was a fairytale ending for the 19-year-old who earlier in the day had helped his club side Tak Ming win the Division One Indoor Volleyball Championship final at Hung Hom Bay.
Pui Ching were denied a unique double as CCC Ming Kei College came out tops in the girls' final.
Wai-ho - or 'Little Ho' to friends - sped across town after a gruelling four-set battle in Hung Hom, arriving just in time for the school title decider with Diocesan Boys' School (DBS).
With the adrenalin still pumping, he and partner Lau Chun-yiu stole the first set 23-21 over the indoor volleyball joint champions.
But the DBS pair, Hong Kong youth team player Chan King-pong and Jeremy Teoh, were in no mood to capitulate. Inspired play by King-pong helped DBS take the second set 21-11 - and at that stage they looked sure champions.
The third set provided a real treat for 100-plus spectators at the venue.
Players from both schools refused to buckle, and every point won was celebrated with high-fives, as the teams slugged it out.
At 12-12, there was tremendous pressure, and psychology won it.
Knowing they were just two points from victory, Pui Ching coach and tournament organiser Cheng King-leung could remain impartial no more.
'Yes!' he screamed as Wai-ho aced a serve.
But DBS tied it 13-13. This was going to the wire. King-pong punched the air and roared after a crafty flick put DBS on match point - 14-13.
But at the crucial moment nerve failed them. Consecutive errors from King-pong and Jeremy saw the advantage swing towards Pui Ching.
When it mattered most, Wai-ho launched himself high above the net and smashed an unstoppable volley against Jeremy's attempted block.
The ball fizzled out and Pui Ching had won the title.
Euphoria ensued as family and friends ran to embrace the champions. Wai-ho was drained.
'I was shattered from playing two matches, but I found the energy at the end - we were determined to win,' said the South China Morning Post Student Sportsperson of the Year nominee.
DBS players fell to their knees, disconsolate after losing a tight contest.
'This was our first school championship - the pressure got to us,' said King-pong.
Meanwhile, Ming Kei duo Choi Sze-man and Kwok Ling made their height advantage count as they took the girls' crown with a 2-1 victory over Pui Ching pair Ng Wai-sze and Yiu Hong-ting.