Grand Prix I
30th October 2011
The hotly awaited 1st Grand Prix of this pre-Paralympic year took place at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering on Sunday 30th October. Tier one consisted of the 4 semi-finalists from last year and a wild card team named Simpsons – which is a team containing some of the Great Britain Women. Also with a new club starting to develop in London through Malory Eagles, a newly formed team named ‘Eagles and Gators’ (as they are merged with Surrey Gators for this season) came through the day unbeaten despite some promising play from the other teams in the top tier, particularly Battleback who pushed them in the 2nd set to 28-26.
The game of the day in Tier 1 happened over lunchtime when the finalists from the previous year took on each other for the first time in this new look competition. Despite some strong play from East London Lynx Captain Anton Raimondo Eagles and Gators came through to win in 2 sets. One of the matches of the day was between Simpsons and F.D.S.W. Celtic Dragons – who themselves have 4 of the Great Britain Women. Despite some great play from both teams Simpsons came through to win in 3 sets.
Tier 2 was hotly contested with all 5 teams keen to gain promotion to the top tier. Portsmouth who were the top seeds going into the competition, survived early scares from Loughborough Lions and Essex Pirates, who both pushed them close. They eventually won both games and emerged as one of the top teams in the league along with Lincoln Imps who also played well.
Going into the last round of matches, both Portsmouth and Lincoln were undefeated and met in a match that would decide who would win the tier and gain promotion. Lincoln won a tight first set 26-24 but Portsmouth came back in the second and took it 25-23. In the final set, Portsmouth showed their quality and won the set relatively comfortably 15-10, to clinch the match and the place in tier 1 for the next Grand Prix in Dorking.
Overall everyone should take positives out of the day; a number of new players experienced competitive volleyball for the first time and should be proud of the contributions they made. A particular mention should go to Kent Wyverns who played with 3 juniors during the competition, encapsulating the inclusive nature of the game and providing them with much optimism for the future.
MVP's were Sophie Yang (Simpsons) for Tier 1 and Richard Stacey-Chapman (Loughborough Lions) for Tier 2.