Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix Series gets under way
26th October 2012
The eagerly awaited first Grand Prix post Paralympic Games took place at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering on Saturday 20th October, which featured GB’s Paralympians as they took to the court for their club teams to inspire the next generation.
Tier 1 of the competition included the top five teams from last seasons Grand Prix series. Defending champions, East London Lynx, continued their success and came through the day unbeaten. There were some strong performances by a number of teams, particularly Ashcombe Surrey Gators who pushed the champions all the way in the final match of the day.
Special mention should also go to Battleback and Lincoln Imps for a thrilling match, which Battleback narrowly edged 2-1.
Tier 2 welcomed some new teams to the Grand Prix series for the first time, Jackson 6, a team sponsored by Sainsbury’s came into the competition following their success in a Sainsbury’s inter company competition. Ashfield Vipers, also debuted their team and demonstrated the fine work that coach Ian Clews is doing with the Ashfield Vipers club.
The Tier 2 competition was hotly contested with all five teams keen to earn promotion.Portsmouthwho were the top seeds going into the competition looked dominant in the early stages. However Loughborough Lions also proved strong contenders emerging from the first three rounds of matches unscathed.
Into the last round Portsmouth and Loughborough Lions met in the promotion decider game where Loughborough Lions took the first blow winning the opener 25-21. In the second,Portsmouthtook an early lead but strong serving from Dutch international, Sanne Bakker got Loughborough Lions back into the set. Lions then capitalised on this momentum and took the second and match 2-1 (25-21, 25-21) to earn promotion in the next series in Ashcombe, Dorking.
Loughborough Lions Captain, Andrea Green commented, “we knew we had a strong side coming into the day but we were pleased to have had such great results against some tough teams. Portsmouth pushed us right to the death in the last game and I’m sure they’ll be joining us in Tier 1 soon. We’re looking ahead now to the next competition and testing ourselves against the top teams.”
Ashfield Vipers demonstrated that despite being a wildcard team they could mix with the teams in Tier 2, setting the bar for the future entries into the competition. New teams, Kent Wyverns and Jackson 6 will look to build their impressive performances in the next stage of the Grand Prix series.
The weekends competition was a fantastic event, supported by encouraging spectators. The highlight of the day was seeing a number of new players amd spectators experience competitive sitting volleyball for the first time; this included a junior players who were recently identified at the Junior Amputee Games, which gave them a chance to see GB’s Paralympians in action as well as receiving some coaching from international players and coaches.
Daniel Griffin, Sitting Volleyball Development Manager for VolleyballEngland, commented, “It was a fantastic way to see the legacy of the Paralympic Games in action. We had more people playing than ever before with a range of people experiencing the sport domestically for the first time. The whole day had a really positive feel to it with club players and juniors interacting with each other and GB players.”