On Wednesday evening, a blustery winter’s night, a depleted Lynx team comprising of only
2 first team starters made the trip to Dalriada to take on Blaze 2 in week 4 of the Mikasa N.I.
Men’s League. Injuries, work commitments and exams had taken their toll on Lynx’s squad but
it did provide the opportunity for non-starting players to prove what they were capable of and
to fight for a starting spot in the team’s next match.
In the cold hall, both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the opening quarter of the first set
and points were traded pretty equally. The Blaze libero made a few spectacular pick-ups
from aggressive Lynx attacks by Mirek Pilch, and numerous serving mistakes from both teams
kept things pretty even. Lynx setter Romain Gouveia managed to find the on-form middle
attacker Lukas Borowiecki who killed several attacks quite potently but Blaze outside hitter Jeff
Scott kept Blaze in the frame. It was only in the last quarter of the set that Lynx showed their
experience and kept a cool head to take the set 25-20.
This obviously got to the Blaze players who were being encouraged by a few noisy supporters
and they came out fighting in the second set. Good serving from Jeff Scott and clever
placement from veteran Ian Walker allowed Blaze to take a lead early on but with Lynx Coach
Chris Grant bringing in massive opposite hitter Georgi, Lynx were able to claw the set back and
take a 3 point lead at the 20 point mark. Thinking the set was won, the foot came off the gas
and along with a few misplaced Lynx attacks, Blaze staged a late comeback and eventually took
the set 25-22.
This was the spark that Lynx needed and their frustration was soon channeled into positive,
aggressive volleyball with setter Gouveia and middle Borowiecki taking the lead and scoring
some impressive points through the middle. Lynx’s passing unit began to gel as well and
opposite Han Lu scored some clever line shots at important stages in the match. Lynx Captain
Lucas Schaper was also impressive on the outside, passing accurately then hitting thunderous
cross court shots that Blaze could just not return. Middle Tom Fabian also contributed well
with several impressive blocks that shook the Blaze attack and stabilized Lynx’s lead. They kept
the pressure on the whole set and ran out 25-17 winners.
The fourth set continued in pretty much the same vein as Lynx kept their grip on the game and
showed their experience and power to a youthful Blaze side. Mirek Pilch kept the points ticking
over and some great setting by Gouveia allowed the Lynx attackers to show some muscle in
their power hits. They ran out 25-11 winners of the set and with it the match 3-1.
Head Coach Chris Grant said after the match, “A win’s a win, but I still think we are not gelling
just right. That is something I need to work on as although we have some excellent players, we
need to be better as a team on court. However, it was good seeing some of my younger and
less experienced players in action, and they handled the pressure quite well. Blaze had a noisy
support and we needed to keep focused and calm in order to take the win.”
Lisburn paid thanks to the referee Johnny Workman.