Grand Prix II
21st November 2011
The Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix 2 arrived in Dorking for the second year in a row. With Ashcombe Volleyball Club kindly offering their facility, the stage was set for yet another thrilling day of sitting volleyball. It did not disappoint.
The opening match in Tier 1 saw current Sitting Volleyball Champions, London Lynx, face a Surrey Gators & Mallory Eagles team that meant business. Needless to say, these teams were evenly matched throughout with points being traded regularly. This could have gone either way but Gators & Eagles edged each set with tight score lines of 25-22 and 26-24. At the same time, BattleBack and Simpsons were also creating a nail bighting encounter on Court 1. Simpsons had the bit between their teeth and would not let go of their slender lead and took the first set 25-19. BattleBack showed that they were made of steel in the second set pulling the match level at 1-1 with a 25-21 victory. The third set was set to be a thriller with points being traded, however, BattleBack showed their mental toughness and won the final set 15-12 to win 2-1 overall.
When Tier 1’s newly promoted team, Portsmouth Sharks, met the experience of London Lynx some may have expected a formality. However, this was not the case as in the first set Portsmouth had tamed their opponents through some fantastic team play by taking 20 points in the first set to lose 25-20. The second set saw Lynx unleashed and ran away 25-7 winners. Meanwhile, Surrey and Malory met BattleBack on Court 2. The precision of the Gators & Eagles setting and their firepower were too much for BattleBack handle and, therefore, ran out 25-16 and 25-10 winners. BattleBack maybe felt the aftermath of a tough first match.
After a short break, Simpsons met a Gators & Eagles side that was on a roll that was evident as they took the first set 25-9. Simpsons rallied together and began to play in the second set; however, Gators & Eagles were just too powerful and finished the set 25-13. Meanwhile, BattleBack took on a determined Portsmouth side. The first set was close but BattleBack edged to victory by 25-21. The second set was similar to the first with BattleBack taking their chances well and finished the set 25-20.
Lynx met BattleBack in one of the toughest fought matches of the day. Lynx played hard in the first set to take a 1-0 lead, however, with some fantastic blocking the flow of play turned to favor BattleBack. They eventual took the second set 25-14. Lynx were glad to see the back of that set and came out with determined looks on their faces. This determination quickly turned to points as they raced to a small lead and kept momentum to finish strongly at 15-8. Portsmouth prepared themselves to play Simpsons by rotating their squad. However, Simpsons soon took control and raced to a 25-18 victory. The second set could not have been more different as Portsmouth came out fighting and took the set 25-13. The Simpsons soon rallied in the third set and we had a tight match emerging as points were readily exchanged. With the scored tied at 14-14, Simpson grabbed the final two points and sneaked home to win the third set 16-14.
The final round of matches saw Portsmouth take on Gators & Eagles to prevent a clean sweep for the day. The first set saw a few mistakes creeping in from Gators & Malory that Portsmouth capitalised upon to take narrowly lose the set by 5 points. The second set saw Gator & Malory show their potential Champions tag and were ruthless with shot selection to find the gaps in the Portsmouth blocking to run out winners, not to drop a set all day, 25-8. The final match saw Simpsons take on Lynx side that had just been through a 3 set thriller. Lynx used every ounce of experience to pull themselves through and raced to a 25-13 victory. In the last set of the day, Simpson won some big points with moments of exceptional blocking and hitting, however, Lynx pulled together to finish the week end with a 25-15 win.
In tier 2, the competition was reduced to 4 teams due to Celtic Dragons withdrawal but with less teams, the day was no less competitive.
The first game of the day saw the bottom 2 teams from the first Grand Prix come together, as Loughborough Lions met Kent Wyverns. After 2 close sets, Lions dominated the third set and came out on top 15-1.
Next up was Lincoln Imps against Essex Pirates, with Lincoln looking to stamp their authority on the competition after narrowly missing out on promotion in the first Grand Prix. They managed to do just that and after winning the first set 25-11 managed to close the match out, winning a tight second set 26-24.
After lunch, Kent continued to show signs of progress, winning the first set against Essex Pirates, before losing 2-1. Lincoln Imps then continued their good form, beating Kent comfortably in 2 sets.
Lincoln secured their promotion with another comprehensive win, this time over local rival Loughborough Lions. A particularly strong performance in the second set saw them run out 25-7 winners and meant they finished the day without dropping a set and only conceding 73 points in 3 matches!
The final game of the day saw Loughborough Lions face Essex Pirates for second place. Both teams battled hard and after Lions led early in both sets, the Pirates came back to take both sets 25-21 and 25-22.
As with the first Grand Prix, all teams had reasons to be optimistic at the end of the day. Kent Wyverns took 2 sets, fielding a number of juniors and eligible players. Loughborough Lions and Essex Pirates played some strong Volleyball in places and will no doubt be looking to push for promotion at the third Grand Prix. The day though, belonged to Lincoln Imps who now have the chance to challenge themselves in the top tier.
MVP's were Richard Osbourne (Portsmouth) for Tier 1 and Niles Rees (Kent Wyverns) for Tier 2.