A Real Hit: The Jeju Volleyball Invitational

Gabriel Fortaleza-Tan, Writer

On October 13th, our GSIS boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams traveled to Jeju to compete against KAIAC and KISAC schools in the annual Jeju invitational tournament. The volleyball teams stayed at the Kenny Hotel in Jeju for a total of 4 days and 3 nights. 

The Jeju invitational is an annual tournament that occurs for volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Last year, the soccer team competed in the invitational for the first time in 3 years since the rise of COVID. A combination of 10 KAIAC and KISAC schools competed across the span of 2 days. The first day was pool play, where schools were divided in half and played out the other teams in their pool. The second day was the actual tournament where the results of the pool play decided the teams’ standings and bracket schedule for the tournament.

Leading up to the Jeju invitational, the boys’ team was on fire as they won the last 4 out of their 5 games leading up to the Jeju invitational. The most memorable of which was their home game against TCIS. With most of the GSIS community coming out to support the volleyball teams, the energy in the stands was unparalleled and motivated the players to play their best game of the season. Against TCIS, a school in the highest division of KAIAC Sports, the boys were able to pull a win out of 5 close sets. Propelled by the hitting and offensive prowess of the seniors, numerous kills and attacks were successful throughout the course of the game. With the tenacity of the GSIS crowd, the girls’ varsity team was also propelled to play their best. Although losing the first set, the girls rallied together and came back to win in the next 3 straight sets. Both teams won their home games for only the second time in the season.

Coming off strong performances in the past, both teams came into the invitational confident. However tough first matchups on the first day would result in close game losses to KIS and KISJ respectively. With the loss of one of their injured captains, junior Sally Kwon, the girls were able to rally together and go on a 3-game-win streak to close out the first day of competition. The boys on the other hand would find a win against BIS but unfortunately fell short in a close 2 sets in their next game against NLCS. 

On the second day of the tournament, both captains of the boys’ team, seniors Chan Lee and Justin Choi, suffered from injuries. Yet despite this setback, the boys were still able to snag a win against Fayston Preparatory School. Over on the girls’ side, despite a tough loss against SJA, they were still able to finish strong— ending with a clean sweep win against SIS. In two tough final matches of the Invitational, the winners of the invitational would be KISJ for the boys and Chadwick for the girls.

Although the tournament didn’t go as well as hoped, both teams showed major improvements in teamwork, skill, and overall resilience, as they were able to bounce back from as many obstacles as they did. Despite not winning the invitational overall, both teams enjoyed the Jeju experience as it proved to be a fun experience to bond with the team in an out-of-school environment. 

As senior Eddie Lee from the boys’ team said, “Although we didn’t have great results at the end, I feel like we improved overall as a team and skill-wise. I could see big improvements in everyone else and myself. It was really nice to have the bond between our players strengthen as a result of going to Jeju. I feel like all of us got closer while at Jeju.”