Richhill Raiders defeated Lisburn Lynx 3-1 on Wednesday night in an extremely fast tempo and high pressure game. Lynx were big favourites to seal victory having defeated the Raiders in the qualification stages of the league and Ballymoney Blaze narrowly sealing victory over the Raiders 2 weeks prior. This meant that it was a must win game for the Raiders if they wanted to keep their hopes of finishing top of the league alive.
Both teams started very quickly and a very fast tempo attacks were produced from both sides. Neither side could manage to pull away, but with the set score at 14-14 the Raiders started to block the Lynx offensive time after time creating a slender 3 point advantage at 17-14. Lynx however were determined not to let the set slip away and battled back to 17-16. Raiders outside hitter Mark Hazley went back to serve and with strong blocking from Captain Mark Fulton and Middle Adam Bell, Lynx were unable to develop any rhythm, eventually loosing the set 25-17.
The atmosphere inside the hall was electric with the whole crowd getting behind the Raiders to spur them onto victory. The second set was every bit as dramatic as the first set, with each team trading point after point. The Raiders block kept getting more effective at stopping the lynx attack, and excellent transition play allowed the Raiders to gain momentum. Steady serving and blocking and an outstanding attack by Raiders outside Stuart Hamilton closed the set off 25-21.
At the start of the 3rd set the Raiders knew that they had to keep the pressure on as Lynx were going to come out strong and fight for the match. Both teams once again kept trading points but Lynx were able to keep a slim lead throughout the set and eventually served the set out 21-25.
The Raiders, annoyed at loosing a set after all their great play and determination, went out into the 4th set applying pressure from the very first point. The Raiders showed tremendous Team Spirit and a great fighting attitude and quickly built up a 13-7 lead. The Lynx team knew they were under extreme pressure, and cracked half way through the 4th set. Tempers flared and it took a few minutes for the Lynx coach and ref to settle the players down and resume the match. The Raiders however, didn’t pay any attention to what was going on and kept focused on their own game. Lynx produced a slight comeback, but the Raiders were able to see out the set 25-21.
Raiders coach Mark Hazley said after the game “It was a fantastic match to play in and a thoroughly deserved win for the Raiders. Our Team Spirit and fighting attitude proved too much to match. Hopefully we can build on this and carry the momentum into our next few matches.”
The Raiders would like to thank the Referee’s Nick Wright, William Robb and Natalie Stewart and also the continued support from their sponsors; The Normandy Inn, Db Squared, Patterson’s Cars, Geoff Telford Photography and Hanna’s Paints.
The club would also like to congratulate and wish the 7 Richhill Raiders Players that have been selected for the Northern Ireland Senior Men’s Squad to play against Ireland and Scotland Senior National Teams this weekend (19th and 20th March):