Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix 2 Round-up
21st November 2017
The weekend saw the second Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix (GP) of the season showcase the competition at its brilliant best. While the results set the season up for a thrilling competitive battle, the event underlined the great level of sportsmanship and camaraderie between the Sitting Volleyball community.
Eight teams headed to the National Volleyball Centre, in Kettering, but the Help4Heroes B team, were depleted due to an Invictus Games Taster session. So players from other teams in Tier Two volunteered to play for Help4Heroes B, meaning all teams had a full day of Sitting Volleyball.
The Sitting Volleyball GP sees the eight teams split into two tiers of four teams. Each team plays every other team in their division, with the top side from Tier Two promoted to Tier One, in place of the top division's bottom side, for the next GP. Each team scores points from their tier, which contribute to the overall league table of all eight teams.
In Tier 1 there was shock as reigning Sitting Volleyball Champions for the last three years, East London Lynx were defeated by Sheffield. From the start, last season’s runners-up, Sheffield were out to show they meant business. After a nail biting first set that Lynx edged 26 – 24, Sheffield went on to use their strong servers Hergedus and Dokwani to take the second set in convincing style, 25-18. Sheffield continued with confidence and took the third set 15 - 12, condemning Lynx to their first loss of the season and setting the year up for a brilliant battle for the top four spots in the league of eight, who will progress to the Sitting Volleyball Grand Finals to decide which team are the Sitting Volleyball Champions.
The Sheffield side featured many experienced standing volleyball players, who have come over to play Sitting Volleyball, underlining how it is a sport for everyone. Sheffield showed why, if they continue this form, this season could see a change in the positions of the league’s top four teams. Sheffield secured maximum points from the Grand Prix with two more victories over South Hants and Help4Heroes A (H4H A) in Tier One.
Lynx bounced back, as champions do, to achieve second place at the GP. They were well lead by captain J Worrall in their win over South Hants, while their game against Help4Heroes A was a clash of the titans. The teams went point for point trying to gain the upper hand in the first set. It was Lynx who forced victory taking the set 28 - 26. H4H A won the second set with the help of an impressive run of serves from F Aveh. However, H4H A, were unable to maintain the form they played with in the second set, as Lynx came through to win the set 15-7 and take the match.
Help4Heroes A caught the eye with some impressive displays and will still be aiming to make the top four after they were promoted from Tier 2 at the last Grand Prix. A win in their first match of the weekend versus South Hants secured them third position at the GP. H4H A, came straight out the blocks with an impressive win in the first set 25 -15. However, South Hants came back to win the second set 25 - 23. After settling their nerves, H4H A gained control of the match again and took an impressive 15-8 win in the deciding set.
With three defeats, South Hants slipped into Tier Two but there was plenty to be optimistic about for a developing team which is gaining vital experience. They fought well in all three of their games and it will be no surprise to see them bounce back into the Tier One and challenge for a top four spot as the season progresses.
The individual honours of Tier One Most Valuable Players went to Z Hegedus of Sheffield, N Rana of H4H A and D Williamson of South Hants.
In Tier Two, Lincoln Imps, who were relegated to Tier Two at the last Grand Prix, bounced back immediately to the top tier. Underlining why they finished in third position in the league last year, they opened with an impressive win against Essex Pirates, dominating from the start. They took the first set 25 – 18 and continued to pile the pressure on and quickly won the second set 25 - 9, with a formidable run of serves from B Richards.
Lincoln’s experience told in their second match against Manchester Marvels, who themselves were missing key players. Both sides produced high quality serves but the well organised Imps took the match in two sets to set up a shootout against Help4Heroes B (H4H B), who had also won both their opening matches, for the top spot and promotion to Tier One. Lincoln proved unstoppable and secured promotion with a straight sets victory.
H4H B, a new team of players brought in to the fold off the back of the Invictus games in Toronto, showed that the experience gained from the first Grand Prix was fundamental in helping them produce some brilliant Sitting Volleyball. They defeated Manchester Marvels in straight sets (25-23, 25-14), before a thrilling encounter with Essex Pirates.
The Pirates dominated the early stages of the match and took the the first set (25-18). H4H B fought back strongly to force a deciding set by taking a tight second set 25-23. H4H B secured their second win, by a 15 – 11 scoreline in the third. It was a superb improvement by the team as at the last GP they recorded just one victory.
With both Manchester Marvels and Essex Pirates losing matches to Lincoln and H4H B, this was the deciding match for both teams to win points to put them in a good position going into Grand Prix Three next month.
It was another three setter, with the experienced players of Essex Pirates helping to nudge them ahead of Manchester to take the win by a 15 – 8 scoreline in the third.
The Tier Two Most Valuable Player awards went to J Dowdswell of Essex Pirates, S Alman of H4H B and S Allen of Manchester Marvels.
The overall league table sees Lynx and Sheffield tied at the top, with Help4Heroes A six points behind in third. Lincoln Imps lead South Hants and Help4Heroes B who are all well placed to challenge for the top four. Manchester Marvels and Essex Pirates occupy the bottom two positions but share the same tally of points.
After a great weekend of Sitting Volleyball, things are well poised as all teams can still challenge for a place at the end of season finale. View the full league table here.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Phil Smith.
Thanks to Carolyne Dufley for reporting on the GP.