2019 JV Girls Volleyball Placed Third at MRISA

The 2019 season for the UNIS girls JV tournament was full of new relationships, team spirit, and successes. This year’s team consisted of co-captain My Nguyen, co-captain Mia Kritenbrink, Victoria Moro de Mendoza, Kitty Tran, Didi Bullard, Elaine Dang, Tey Le, Sarah Anthony, Isabella Brazil, Ngoc Nguyen, Hari Jang, Trang Pham, Carmen Cortizas, and Abigael Goosey. The team first participated in and won first place in the local HAC tournament hosted at Concordia International School Hanoi. Then, we traveled to Saigon South International School in Ho Chi Minh City for the final MRISA tournament. After three days of fantastic volleyball with five other teams, we received third place. 

The level of play in MRISA was considerably higher than in previous games our girls had faced, with all of the other teams participating being those at the varsity level. Despite the difference in age, we persevered and demonstrated amazingly positive attitudes in every game, showing a determination to never give up no matter the score. An honorable mention from the tournament must go to the three pairs of colorful socks, one for each day, that were worn by the travel team to boost team spirit. Featuring hot dogs on the first day, popsicles on the second, and avocados for the third, these socks were just one of the ways that our team made an effort to foster a family atmosphere, which showed in the way that we played and really banded together as a team. Our amazing back row players produced incredible “3-point” passes, our setters set beautifully for our hitters, and our spikers absolutely killed it! There were only words of encouragement spoken on the court, and in a sport that is as mentally exhausting as volleyball, supportive teammates are key to success. 

It’s safe to say that our team has made incredible progress throughout this season in terms of individual skills and working together as a team. As co-captains, we are extremely proud of our awesome team for how far we’ve come from the group of mostly uneasy strangers to the highly functioning volleyball machine that we’ve become. All the hard work and effort that we’ve put in, ranging from extra morning practices to planning outfits on game days, definitely paid off, and the memories from this season will be ones that we will keep forever. We’re going to miss being with these energetic, goofy, yet powerful players. It was an honor to be a part of this team! 

Mia Kritenbrink and My Nguyen

JV Boys Volleyball Place 4th at MRISA in Saigon

After winning our local HAC league the Junior Varsity Boys Volleyball team traveled to SSIS for our season finale MRISA tournament. Six teams played a round robin followed by semifinals and finals. Our UNIS Phoenix came fourth, narrowly losing 3rd place after a very intense and close third set against VIS. This year’s JV squad was made up of Gia Khang Vo & Lam Nguyen (Co-Captains), Hung Le, Heedong Cho, Huy Nguyen, Jeongha Kim, Johnny Okello, Kiet Nguyen, Aoi Ito, Nam van der Wielen, Ian Moore, and Aryan Behar.

The level of play encountered in Saigon was nowhere near the teams we played locally in Hanoi, as the tournament consisted of Varsity teams only. Even so, our players have worked hard to get to where we are. We managed to do our best and put up a good fight for our last game in MRISA, losing to VIS while bringing them to a third set (we lost to them in 2 sets on the first day). Although we lost some games, everyone still had their heads up and were always ready to bring their game, no matter the outcome (especially you Johnny). Every single member was dedicated and has contributed to the team in a positive matter. We worked extremely hard and it was worth it to see the improvements we’ve achieved in the past season.

It has been a wonderful 2 months to be able to play alongside this team and watch every single player improve in many ways. I am extremely grateful for this team, alongside coach Darren. This will be my last MRISA Volleyball, and even though we didn’t manage to get the outcome we wanted, I have absolutely no regrets as it had been a ton of fun playing with this team. Thank you to everyone in this team, including Ian & Aryan who didn’t get the chance to travel, as well as Coach Darren for making this season an absolute blast!

By Gia Khang Vo

Varsity Girls Volleyball 2019

We hustle into our huddle, arms around one another. As each second passes, the clock nears zero and we exchange looks of unease, but words of strength and confidence. The timer goes off, our hands reach to the center of our bunch. Frances and Co May, our team captains wink at each other and chant, “Phoenix on three”, and in unison, we shout, “One, two, three Phoenix”. This marks the beginning of each of our games this season. 

The volleyball team this year started off shaky. Comparing our first game against a university team, to the games we were able to play out during the APAC tournament, you see evident progress. As the season went by, our team chemistry augmented, our sense of unity was built with every practice, every game, every team dinner, every win, every let down. We started off as individuals each playing our own game, and ended the season knowing to play our game as a team.

This noticeable change from the start to finish wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance and support of Coach Schneider and Coach Thompson. Each game, they noted what we needed to improve on, recording data on the accuracy of our serves, serve receive, our sets. They made time for each of us to mark our progress and set goals for ourselves and the team. They designed workouts and made practice an environment where we were comfortable to make mistakes. Their effort throughout the season, contributed immensely to the development of our skills. 

We also had our team captains who made significant effort throughout the entirety of the season. Co May and Frances motivated our team, made practice plans, and spoke like true leaders. Both captains worked tirelessly to support our team both on and off the court.  

Throughout the season, we waited anxiously for APAC. Before we knew it, the four day tournament we had been training for all season, abruptly appeared at our feet. We were ready. Pool play brought a variety of challenges, and the team figured out how to play together at a new level.  We finished 2-3 in pool play, notably taking the only set from Shanghai American School. In the playoffs, our team took a respectable 5th place, beating Hong Kong International School, a serious rival from the previous year.

Varsity Girls Volleyball finished our regular season 8-7 overall, 5-0 in the HAC conference and 3-7 against university teams.  We are once again the HAC champions, and incredibly proud of the season. Congratulations to our team: Co May Nguyen, Ha Nguyen, Frances Phan, Caitlyn Francis, Josefine Schmitz, Navya Kala, Bella Roulbet, Mai Linh Neefjes, Audrey Hanson, Natalie Krubnerova, Mai An Nguyen, and Naomi Judge. 

Varsity Boys Volleyball

This year’s team had a compact season, cramming in the HAC regular season, the HAC cup, the UNIS invitational, as well as our main event, APAC Volleyball Tournament at Shanghai American School – Puxi. The team is proud of their work throughout the entire season improving throughout, winning the HAC championship, winning the HAC Cup, holding our own against strong university teams at the UNIS Invitational and finally competing at APAC.

The team had many ups and downs, with problems like injuries, the miserable SAT or other commitments, the team had to battle through not having all members available during many training which impacted our progress. However, dealing with adversity made us a stronger team both on and off the court. Perhaps this brother-like bond is reflected upon our attitude towards one another on the court and everybody’s readiness to fight for each other.

The result of 5th place achieved at APAC was disappointing to all, and definitely does not show our true capabilities. However, when looking back, most of us can say we played hard, smart and together. This attitude is what all 12 of us hopes reflects upon the programme and how together we are helping to build our legacy.

To the seniors, thanks, you all have contributed greatly to this program and we all hope you continue playing volleyball wherever you are. To the rest of the team, continue to be passionate about the sport, work hard and carry on the pride imprinted in the Phoenix.

By Richard Dang, Team Captain

MRISA Junior Volleyball Girls

On the fifth of May, 2019 the UNIS Hanoi girls got ready to play SSIS to get into the championship game. As we walked onto the court, we knew we would play hard until the end, no matter the score.

The season began with some uncertainty. We had two returning players Isabella and Jada. Only one was on the MRISA travel team. The rest of the team: Sophia, Michelle, Abi, Beeke, Kiara, Trang, Lily, Elione, Ngoc, Saki, Carolina, Sarah were either completely new or have been playing for just one or two years. At the beginning of the season, we were all individual players. We lost our first game against BVIS in three sets and our second game to HIS in three sets. But losing wasn’t all a bad thing. It encouraged our team to improve and bring ourselves together as a team. As practices and games passed and we neared the MRISA tournaments, we continued to improve.

Throughout the season, our team continued to grow with the help of our amazing Coach Cortney, who worked us hard, up until we left every practice more conditioned than the last. Our team benefited from all the extra sessions we put in over weekends, holidays, and even before school.

Our entire team shakes their heads when we think about our first couple of games and how poorly we played. Luckily, thanks to our wonderful coach and our team’s dedication, we grew individually and as a team and gave everyone at MRISA a run for their money. As we look back and think about our SSIS game, we couldn’t be prouder of how hard and intense our team played against this championship team!

Jada AL-Iesa and Sophia Chagas

Boys Volleyball – MRISA Jr Runners Up!

After an undefeated season in our local HAC tournament, the Middle School Boys Competitive Volleyball team stayed in Hanoi for their season finale MRISA Jr. tournament. Six teams played a round robin for the first two days and on the last day the finals. This year’s team was made up of Captains Segdae Lucardie and Min Yong An who led the team with great spirit and leadership. Our middles Nam van der Wielen, Harald Hogberg and Kiet Nguyen lit up the court with all their blocks and spikes. Our fantastic outside hitters Heedong Cho and Toby Fujii Bennett were consistent throughout the whole season getting hits off the charts. Our reliable Opposites Perry Baek, Hieu Nguyen, Aoi Ito and William Francis all played exceptionally well when it came down to the close moments. Last but not least our Liberos who were amazing, Takao Saito and Minh Khoi Phan were as helpful as always.

Our Phoenix came out strong and took the first match solidly against SSIS in a nearly error-free match of beautiful volleyball.  After winning all the round robin games we were ready for the Finals. Since we finished top of the ladder we went straight to the semi-finals playing ISE Eagles, who were looking very strong. ISE challenged us the entire game but with the strength of our blockers and the skills of our hitters, we moved onto the Finals against SSIS.  In the Finals, our middles contributed to our offense with well-placed hits and strong blocks, our setter Segdae was being tactical the whole game choosing who to set to and when. Minh Khoi was making great receives and setting up attacks.  We lost the first set, but we were able to bounce back in the second set with Min Yong’s incredible serves. We won the the set making it 1-1. It all came down to the last set, both teams tired from the previous sets making every play their best. It went all the way down to the wire unfortunately SSIS got the better of UNIS Hanoi on the day. All the boys were full of pride and exhaustion for playing such a great tournament that we will all remember till the end of our lives.



Congratulations to the boys for representing UNIS Hanoi proudly. Congratulations to Min Yong and Segdae for making the all tournament team. Thank you to all the players for their commitment and dedication on and off the court with practices, extra workouts, and Saturday open courts, while also managing school work. Thank you to our parents for allowing us to spend so much time developing our game and finally to the crowd for going along on the journey the whole season. There were ups and downs and you were always there for us. A big shout out to all the people who supported the team and dedicated their time towards this volleyball side, Coach Schneider, Coach Richard, Coach Rohan and Coach Momo. And one last special thanks  to Coach Keri who helped us improve our skills as volleyballers and as people. She has taught us the fundamentals and skills that a volleyball player needs to succeed, so from all players of the UNIS Hanoi MRISA boys team we thank you so much. You are a committed, dedicated, passionate coach who loves the sport and leads by example. We are looking forward to coming back next year and winning the title.

Who’s House?
Our House!

Who’s House?
Our House!

Phoenix on three, one, two three Phoenix!

By Segdae Lucardie and Min Yong An.

Historic Volleyball Season

In 2018, the Varsity Boys Volleyball team had a historic year culminating with the Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC) trip hosted by Seoul Foreign School in Korea.  This year, we entered the season with last season’s disappointment weighing on our shoulders, but we had a strong foundation of returners with APAC experience under our belts. With the culture change felt across our sports programme and the positive vibe from the team, we entered each game with confidence, no longer allowing the mentality of being okay to lose in our heads. Our school arranged for ex Olympic volleyball player and coach, David McKienzie, to start off our year with a 3 day-intensive camp for coaches and players. This start became the spark which would last us through to the end of the season. The opportunity brought forth new and old players alike, and we became more aware of the potential of this cohort.

Practices were very difficult at times. We were each dealing with our own problems, whether it be college applications, a broken leg, or the usual teenage pains, but at volleyball practices we found escape in the strenuous rope jumps and suicide runs up and down the court. Here, at least, we could all suffer together, and laugh at Lenny for breaking his leg prematurely from a motorbike accident. And Mo’s horrendous tipping. Never again, Mo.

Local league games started the second week of the season, and we ripped through the Hanoi Activities Conference (HAC) schedule, going undefeated and winning both the HAC Championship and the HAC Cup.  As it turned out, our second team was the second best team in Hanoi, and proved as such winning the HAC Cup with the starters supporting from the sideline. Before we knew it, APAC came around, and Jacob was late to the airport. We rode the bus to the airport with the excitement of ninety year olds, because it was 7:30 in the morning. However, with our bags stuffed with our jerseys and Haribos, we were ready to play and put all our hard work to the test.

Game day came, and we started off the tournament with our first win against Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), which we would later face in the finals. We fought through the grueling round robin portion of the tournament, earning the first seed, and the boys lost it. We were in the semifinals. UNIS  Hanoi team in the semifinals, what even?!

Prior to our game against Canadian Academy, a few jerseys were wet, a few muscles worn out, but our spirits were stronger than ever. We sat around on the soccer pitch outside the gymnasium, and in this moment, we saw the culminating point of our team. Here was a squad of boys who played their hearts out on the court, and this would carry us to the finals after a 3-1 win over Canadian Academy. Finals baby.

Lenny brought it down with the first hit of the finals, and with that, we pulled the first set off 25-21. With our gears cranking and motions in place, we won the second set as well, albeit at a smaller deficit of 25-22. Struggling to maintain our fire, we slipped on the third set, losing it 19-25. However, undeterred, we brought back our A-game, proving difficult for WAB. We were going 1 point back and forth, and before we knew it, it was 24-24. With an influx of emotions and stress pervading our mind, we dug to our roots, clutching our ears, whispering Woo Sa, and we clinched the next point, making it 25-24. And perhaps the most memorable moment is when Charlie served the ball for the final point and ran in to play defense, Mo and Richard put up and intimidating block that forced the WAB middle attacker to push the ball out of bounds, giving us the 2018 APAC Championship. The celebrations were intense and all over the place, tears of joy, shouts of pride, and support from our amazing girls’ team took over the gym. Finally, APAC Champions!

Afterwards, we sat on the reflection staircase outside the gym, and Charlie and I could not be prouder to captain this group of boys. Series of congratulation videos were sent from home, and we felt even more the heftiness of this win for the UNIS Hanoi Sports Programme. We felt like heroes. We also realized we had to dye our hair…

This season’s success would not have been possible without our coaches, Coach Tarique and Coach Boy. You guys pushed us to our limits with your dated jokes and back to the basic drills which frustrated us, but we all secretly knew it was for our own good (“Starts with a pass”). We credit this success to you. A special shout out to former players Yoav and Jake, we take this moment to thank them for their continued positivity and transformative effect on UNIS Hanoi sports culture. We also want to thank all our previous coaches and everyone who was a part of this journey, with special thanks to Coach Mac for setting the foundation and for Coach Giller for her passion and enthusiasm in providing opportunities in the off season to get better.

We are very proud of the special place this team will hold in the UNIS Hanoi history books. First APAC championship of any kind for our school. Keep it rolling – GO PHOENIX!

By Rohan Gowda and Charlie Wood, Varsity Volleyball Team Captains