Daegu spikers rally to take Korea title
SEOUL – Rather than worry about how high a mountain they had to climb to defend their title, coach Joanna Wyche told her Daegu Warriors spikers to just concentrate on the match in front of them, then move onto the next one.
The “one match at a time” strategy proved to be the right formula. And the Warriors overcame a first-round loss to Seoul Foreign by winning the next four matches, including the deciding tie-breaker set against the Crusaders on Friday. It meant a second straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Blue Division Tournament title.
“We found resilience,” Wyche said. “Elated. Relieved. I felt an awesome sense of OK, it’s over for Korea, now we move on to Far East” next week at Camp Zama, Japan.
The Warriors won the tournament title a year ago and the regular-season conference title in 2011. This season, they shared the regular-season crown with Taejon Christian International and earned the top seed entering the tournament at Seoul Foreign School.
Senior middle blocker Lari Robertson earned tournament MVP and Best Hitter honors, with 86 spike kills. Best server, senior Kaitlyn Nott, also had 63 set assists, while senior Rachel Wyche had 93 digs and sophomore Rheagan Wyche 58 assists.
Daegu led the first match by two sets over Seoul Foreign before crumbling in the next three. “Horrible,” Wyche said of 14 service errors that doomed the Warriors.
But they fought back, first ousting Osan American, then TCIS, then Yongsan International-Seoul, all in three sets, to reach the final against the tournament hosts.
The Warriors won that match 16-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-15, handing the Crusaders their first loss. By KAIAC rule, a tie-breaker set is played instead of a full match should each team end up with one loss after the final. Daegu won that tie-breaker 25-18.
“The season has been a big battle on and off the court,” Wyche said of what she called a “stressful” campaign. “Despite it all, we have persevered.”
The Far East Division II Tournament is Monday-Thursday at Camp Zama’s Yano Fitness & Sports Center.