November 14, 2023
The AIS-Salzburg Lions volleyball teams had a rough weekend at the DVAC championships, with all three teams going without a win.
However, the scoreboard does not tell the whole story.
The varsity girls’ team had two exciting matches that came down to the final seconds; in both cases, the Lions narrowly fell short of a victory. In their first match against the reigning champions from ICS Budapest, the Lions had their opponents on their heels after winning the first set 25-22. However, the Bulldogs of Budapest rallied back to win the second set 25-21. In the third and final set to 15, the Lions had the lead throughout the set until the final moments, when ICSB once again rallied from behind to defeat the Lions 15-13.
“It was an exciting match with a lot of ICSB fans and other teams watching,” said girls varsity coach, David Burns. “It is unfortunate that we didn’t pull out the victory, but the experience was something they will never forget. We live for those types of games in sports.”
In their second match, the girls were in another intense battle against the varsity team from Vienna International School, a high school with 8 times the population of AIS-Salzburg. The Lions lost the opening set 22-25 and were visibly frustrated after losing another close set. As a result, the wheels fell off in the second set en route to a 12-25 thumping at the hands of the Panthers from Vienna.
In their third and final match, the Lions faced another big school in AIS Vienna, who defeated the Vienna International School earlier in the day. In this match, the Lions regained their form from their first match and surprised the Knights, winning the first set 25-19. However, almost like a repeat from their match vs. ICSB, Vienna battled back to win the second set 25-22 before rallying late in the third and final set to hand the Lions another heartbreaking loss by another score of 15-13.
“Today wasn’t our day. We were very close to upsetting two of the top teams at the tournament and just fell short. The girls were very disappointed that we didn’t achieve our goal of winning the championship. But they shouldn’t hang their heads as this was the strongest competition I have ever seen in the DVAC varsity tournament. The fact that we competed that closely with those teams, especially with such a young team, is a major achievement.”
In fact, of the seven girls that made the trip, four were aged 14 and 15, ages that typically compete at the junior varsity level. Natalija J., who recently turned 14, was thrown into a starting setter role in the absence of senior setter Julija M.
“Natalija played great. She had never played the setter position prior to this season and the strides she made in just two months is remarkable,” said coach Burns. “The experience our younger girls gained in these exciting and intense games will pay dividends next year.”
Unfortunately, the boys’ volleyball team was unable to retain their championship status at the DVAC junior varsity championships this past weekend. The tournament was very competitive with all teams being equal and having the ability to win it.
The boys finished third in their pool after losing to AIS Vienna and ICS Vienna in two very close matches that went to the final set with the Lions only losing by a few points. In the final game to determine who finished in 5th place, the boys lost again in two, hard-fought, close sets to AIS Budapest.
“We definitely did not get the result we were hoping for,” said coach Nick DeWitt. “It was just a matter of a few touches going one way or the other. On a positive note, the boys have improved a lot and I am amazed at everyone’s individual growth and development.”
Alex M. was a standout on the court, both as a player and leader. Petr V. also had a great tournament behind some great hustle and defensive net play.
The junior varsity girls’ volleyball team gained some much-needed experience this past weekend at the DVAC championships after playing four games. These four games, combined with the 6 other games they have played this season, make for the most games played by a JV girls’ volleyball team from AIS-Salzburg as far as anyone on staff can remember.
Since the team consists completely of newcomers to the game, the objective of coaches David Burns and Abby Lee this year was for them to learn some volleyball, have fun, and play in as many competitions as possible.
“The 10 girls on the team were very dedicated and motivated to improve,” said Burns. “I was impressed with their enthusiasm and I am excited to see where it takes them next year.”
Improve they did. Despite going winless at the tournament, the girls showed major strides in their game since the mid-season festival, according to assistant coach, Abby Lee, who was their coach at the tournament.
“It was amazing to see how much this team grew and improved throughout the season,” said JV girls volleyball coach and resident assistant, Abby Lee. “Although we didn’t win anything, the team put up a very good fight and had some stellar moments.”
Team Captain, Milla S. had a great tournament with some amazing saves, tips, and serves. Ainara M., who started the season out on the practice-only team and was eventually promoted to the JV team, started in almost every set in the championship tournament and brought a calm nature and made smart moves on the court. Marybel A. stepped up on short notice to assume the role of setter and did a great job. Anna L. brought enthusiasm and positive reinforcement the entire tournament, cheering on her teammates both on and off the court.
“Overall, I could not be more proud of these girls. The display of tenacity, hard work, and commitment within the team was very admirable and made my job as a coach very enjoyable.”