Tonight saw Blaze’s 1st and 2nd team face up against each other in the NIVA Men’s League, competing not just for league points but for bragging rights as well. Blaze 1 went in to the match confident after their 3-0 opening win against Civil Service, but the Blaze 2 players were hopeful of an upset drawing encouragement from their positive display in their opening fixture.
Blaze 2 had to make a few late changes to the team due to a couple of injuries and players being unavailable and it took a few points before they really got started. Blaze 1’s Captain David Park won the toss and elected to receive, which worked well as they sided out straight away. Player/coach Alan McKnight then started serving for Blaze 1 and jump served 5 points in a row to give the team a solid 6-0 start to the 1st set. Blaze 1 kept the pressure on throughout the set and timeouts called by Blaze 2 at 9-16 and 10-23 could do little to stop them taking the 1st set 25-11.
Blaze 2 came out determined in the 2nd to put up a fight with encouraging words from Captain Johnny McClenaghan reminding the rest of the guys to keep positive and to enjoy the game. Blaze 1 were relentless though and outside hitters Jeff Scott and Adam Hunter were able to pick holes in the Blaze 2 blocks enabling them to score points throughout the set. Blaze 2 had a mixed side with 3 experienced players and 4 guys in their 1st or 2nd season of playing volleyball. It wasn’t all easy for Blaze 1 and credit to libero Aaron McKendry for keeping Blaze 2 in a lot of rallies due to his sheer determination. Blaze 1 always had the upper hand in this set though and Alan McKnight finished the set serving in the same fashion that he had started the match, serving 7 points in a row to win the set and keep Blaze 2 to single figures at 25-9.
The Blaze 1 players had been serving well all match with Matt Scott grabbing a couple of aces in the previous set, but in set 3 Callum Currie came on and made an impact, serving 4 in a row giving the team another solid advantage in a set. Blaze 2 played some good volleyball in this set with some good blocking from middle Tom Cartmill and hitter Ian Walker always a threat on the outside. In the end Blaze 1 were able to pull away as in previous sets with Richard Surgenor hitting well through the middle. They won the set 25-11, the match 3-0 and perhaps most importantly, bragging rights until the 2 teams meet again.
The final result was 3-0 to Blaze 1: 25-11, 25-9, 25-11.
Thanks to the support and especially to Kerry and Hannah for refereeing and Clare and Sarah on the scores.
Blaze 2 team: Johnny McClenaghan (c), Tom Cartmill, Ian Walker, Peter Marshall, Andrew Mills, Luke McAuley, Aaron McKendry (l)
Blaze 1 team: David Park (c), Alan McKnight, Jeff Scott, Adam Hunter, Richard Surgenor, Matt Scott, Callum Currie, Jonny Workman (l)