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Eagles complete perfect year

The Siem Reap Globe Eagles (left, blue) and the Kampong Spey Global Giving Scorpions compete during the 2009 Cellcard National Volleyball League grand final Friday.

Siem Reap Globe Eagles claim the Cellcard National Volleyball League title, beating the Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions 3-0 in Saturday’s final

The 2009 Cellcard National Volleyball League grand final drew large crowds of devout volleyball fans of all ages to Olympic Stadium on Friday, with many more watching the action live from their armchairs on CTN.

Siem Reap Globe Eagles swooped to a 3-0 victory over Kompong Speu Global Giving Scorpions to become the Cellcard league champions for the first time in their history. The superior fitness and discipline of the Eagles saw top athletes Cheam Chhandy, Chhoum Kong and Preap Thet flying high and fast to neutralise the Scorpions’ sting and maintain their perfect record for the entire season.

After a strong start saw them lose the first set 28-26, the Scorpions maintained their morale and discipline but were simply no match for an Eagles team that has utterly dominated their opposition this year. The Eagles front line smashed home point after point, picking holes in the Scorpions defence with ease in the second set, and taking it comfortably 25-14.

Veteran Eagles setter Sorn Sokorn could easily have qualified for man of the match with his command of the centre court, providing impeccable service for Preap Thet and Chhoum Kong to pick out their spots.

Scorpions coach Pin Sarath enhanced his reputation as one of the nation’s best by keeping his team’s hopes alive in the third set, clawing back an early nine-point deficit with soaring hook spikes that left Eagles defenders Chek Than and Tes Vichet sprawling in despair. Chhorn Bunthorn and youngster Ing Phiream combined well under the steely resolve of Scorpions setter Phat Yoy, whose brusque commands kept discipline under pressure.

With the scores all level halfway through the set, the Scorpions were still in with a shout before veteran Eagles coach Chat Samouen called a time out from the sidelines and gave his team a stern talking to. Striding back on court, the Eagles looked the more confident, with the visibly exhausted Scorpions flagging at the edges. Tiredness led to unforced errors, and though the Scorpions managed to keep close, it was the Eagles’ evening, taking the third set 25-21 to clinch the title.

Jubilations erupted on court as the Eagles soaked up the support of the crowd and took calls from family watching back in Siem Reap province. Cellcard CEO Kay Lot presented the unique Armed Art trophy to the team, congratulating them on their richly deserved victory.

Dragons take revenge on Koupreys
Earlier Friday, the Phnom Penh ANZ Royal Dragons overcame 2008 National Champions Kompong Speu CTN Koupreys 3-1 in the third-place playoff to avenge their loss in the same fixture at last year’s grand final. After suffering unheard-of defeats to Kampong Speu Global Giving Scopions and Battambang MOSVY Tigers in the third round, six-time champions Dragons had their pride to protect against one of the most consistent teams in the league.

Dragons coach Chem Kim Horn gave one of the best performances of his career, leading his team by example with acrobatic defence, sure-handed sets and thundering spikes to win the first set comfortably 25-16. Cambodian sports legend Chheam Panh dominated the centre of the court for the Dragons, keeping every ball alive for young stars Ni Lida and Thea Vanna to spike home against a Koupreys team slow on its defensive feet to take the second set 25-19.

Koupreys’ 60-year-old coach Cha Hok rallied his troops in the third set, and sterling performances from spikers Yem Buntheon and Phoune Run helped win it 25-23, to pull one back.

Tensions mounted in the fourth set, as unforced errors reflected tired legs on both sides after four solid months of matches. With both teams neck and neck, the Dragons eventually slammed home the winning spike to take the set 26-24 and bank the US$1,000 prize for third place.



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