Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS) know what it takes to win inter-school sports competitions. They regularly win basketball, swimming and athletics championships. They added two volleyball titles late last year. In the finals, they beat Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Secondary School (CSW) and Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School, who dominated the field in previous years.
DBS won the A-grade Boys’ Inter-school Volleyball Competition in November. This was followed by victory in the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Volleyball Tournament a month later.
DBS captain Mak Hao-ning, 18, is obviously delighted that his school team is doing so well.
Hao-ning said he focused on making the team more dynamic. They had managed to develop a rhythm that their opponents couldn’t overcome, he added.
“Our strategies are based on quick attacks. Everything had to be fast to elude our rival blockers. I’m a setter, and I always pretend to set a ball for an outside hitter [who is on the left], when in actual fact, I’m going to pass the ball to the middle blocker or a right-side hitter. The move needs to be quick, and timing plays a huge role when setting up an attack.”
Hao-ning said the team used backward flight a lot. Backward flight means a middle blocker runs behind the setter and then hits the ball. The captain says it’s the speed that confuses opponents, not the power behind the play.
However, DBS’ speedy attacks had their drawbacks.
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“Sometimes, we would be too fast. If any of our players weren’t able to keep up with the pace, it would be difficult to set up an attack. That’s why time-outs are important. The break enables us to take a moment to breathe, co-ordinate our movements and help us find our rhythm again,” Hao-ning said.
A good first pass is important, too, because without it, it isn’t possible to launch further attacks. Under Hao-ning’s leadership, the team cut down on their errors, especially when serving.
As well as the double victory, Hao-ning’s efforts were rewarded when he was named Most Valuable Player in the Jing Ying competition.
He said there’s more work to be done with the team before he takes the HKDSE this year. He wants to be able to instil in his school’s younger players the same fighting spirit that has carried his team to victory – but to not expect the same results as they’ve had this year.
“The most important task, for our younger players, is to develop their own style that helps them stand out,” said Hao-ning.
“We always want to win more titles of course, but sports is all about victory and loss. Like us, they’ll need to experience defeat, learn lessons the hard way, and find solutions to their problems. Then, I think they’ll achieve true glory.”
Who is your favourite athlete?
Japan’s national volleyball team member Yuki Ishikawa. He is a well-rounded player, and can jump high and hit the ball hard. His other skills like digging, serving and blocking are also solid. His success has inspired me and shows that volleyball players cannot rely on just one skill. To become a top volleyball player, I’ll need to improve my all-round game.
If you could have the abilities of any animal for one competition, which one would you choose and why?
The eagle, because of its eyesight. An eagle can spot its prey from a long distance. If I had its eyes, I’d be able to hit the ball more accurately.
What drink would you never give up?
I would never give up water. Some people would say water tastes bland and that’s why they won’t drink it, but I sweat a lot and dehydrate quickly. I need almost a litre of water before every game.
Which fictional character would you choose as your teammate?
I would want Oikawa Tooru from the Japanese manga series, Haikyu!!, as a setter. Oikawa always delivers a good ball for hitters. He’s also an expert at co-ordinating his team, controls the speed and direction of the ball, and decides which strategies should be used during a game.