Volleyball, handball teams come first at tournament
Strength and dedication lead LAU athletes to top spots at AUB Invitational Tournament.
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LAU athletes had plenty to smile about during the 2009 AUB Invitational Tournament, with the men’s handball and women’s volleyball teams defeating their AUB counterparts at the finals April 1 and March 24, respectively.
After a heavily contested first half, the handball team won the final on AUB’s campus by four points (32-28).
Coach Ziad Mansour believes the turning point in the game came when the team strengthened its defense, and dedicated itself to the match despite heavy dissatisfaction with the decisions of the referees.
“For years, my players come to practice… They do it from their heart,” said Mansour. “I have a special relationship [with them]. I treat them not just like a coach,” he added.
“Thanks to our coach, we always manage to have a team that’s consistently winning tournaments, and a big part of that is down to him,” said Suleiman Ahmad, a team member for three years.
For its part, the women’s volleyball team came first when it beat AUB in the final two of three sets (20-25, 23-25, 12-15) at an “intense and exciting” game, as captain Bissar Sleiman said.
The team has “lost only one game this year,” said coach Nazih Sleiman.
That single loss had cost them the national championship two weeks earlier, when they suffered what Sami Garabedian, director of LAU’s Athletics Office in Beirut, called a “heartbreaking loss” against AUB. They came in third together with University of Balamand.
“Our team’s strength and spirit comes from our dedication to the sport and to one another,” said Bissar. “The members of our team have built friendships on and off the court, supporting each other through anything thrown at us, whether a ball or one of life’s dilemmas,” she added.
“In my opinion, without any hesitation, they have been the most improved team this year,” said Garabedian.
These achievements against AUB on their own campus tie in to a long-standing, friendly rivalry between the varsity teams of the two universities.
“It’s like Notre Dame and University of Miami in the States,” said Garabedian, “It’s always good to have such healthy rivalry. We’re trying to build on a healthy and lasting relationship,” he added.
In swimming, Aline Hatab, Samah Ibrahim, Afif Rustom, Rashad Wazzan, Ahmad Abdallah, and Afif Daaboul got two gold, one silver, and one bronze medals, and third place overall for LAU, in the AUB tournament, April 4-5.
Garabedian, as well as coaches and athletes, encourage LAU students to support their teams during athletic competitions.
The men’s handball and women’s volleyball teams are looking forward to joining other LAU teams in facing international competition, including athletes from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Denmark, during a tournament in France, May 6-10.
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