The NIVA Men’s League kicked off on Wednesday 29th September at Richhill Recreation Centre, with the first match for newly formed team Richhill Raiders as they faced Ballymoney Blaze 2nds, who were back in the league after a 2 year absence. The game had a typical ‘first game of the season’ feel as both teams had some scrappy play at times. The Ballymoney Blaze 2nds brought a mixture of youth and experience, but the quality and experience of the Richhill players ran out comfortable winners 3-0.
League champions from 2008/09, North Down travelled to Portadown College to take on the first of the Aztecs teams in the league this year; Aztecs Eagles. This game was there for the taking for either side but Aztecs Eagles managed to edge the 1st set 25-22. The match continued to be a closely contested affair, but Aztecs after winning the 1st set, went on to win the next 2 sets taking the match 3-0.
Next up Ballymoney Blaze started the defence of their league title against a defensively strong Civil Service team. Blaze were eager to get the first game of the season under their belt and Civil Service were up for winning the game as well. Civil Service played a solid game but Blaze’s strong attacking and serving made it difficult for them. Blaze won the match 3-0.
The final game of the fortnight was played on Saturday evening at the new venue of Laurelhill Community College, newly formed team Lisburn Lynx faced Aztecs Warriors. Aztecs fielded a young team but with some experience – 3 of the players being part of the Gold winning UKSG team. Lisburn Lynx had a good number of players at the game and they were used to good effect as Lynx took the match 3-0.
Looking ahead to week 2 of the league, after their bye in week 1 the Ulster, Jordanstown play their first match in the league away to North Down, who will be looking to bounce back after their close defeat to Aztecs Eagles. Civil Service host Aztecs Eagles and will be hoping to notch up a first win, though Aztecs Eagles will be confident after their 1-0 start. Richhill travel to Aztecs Warriors for their first away game in the league and will be hoping to maintain their perfect set ratio. The game of the fortnight could well be at Dalriada on Friday 22nd with Ballymoney Blaze 1st and 2nd teams competing for bragging rights within the club, Blaze 1sts will be favourites but the 2nds can take a lot from their display against Richhill last fortnight and anything can happen in a game like this.