After the original match had to be rescheduled due to the unusually snowy weather, on Monday evening Lisburn Lynx travel to Bangor to face North Down in the Mikasa N.I. Men’s League. With both teams missing key players due to the weather, exams or injury, it was not expected to be an exciting match, with the teams slugging it out to take home the 3 points in the last match before the Christmas break.
During the warm-up North Down setter Moore took a ball in the eye from a thunderous middle attack from Lynx middle Borowiecki and it was only after an extended period of ice treatment that he was able to continue in the match. No lasting damage seemed to be caused thankfully. The first set began pretty evenly with both teams scoring from outside attacks, Schaper and Pilch proving effective for Lynx. Setter Gouveia settled into his stride pretty quickly too but some poor blocking allowed North Down to draw even at the mid way point of the set. However Pilch, the outstanding player from Lynx’s last 3 matches, stepped up to serve and went on an amazing run, allowing Lynx to run out 25-16 winners.
This shook the North Down passing unit and allowed Lynx to build up an 8 point lead at the start of the 2nd set. However some poor serve receive and few pick-ups from the North Down block gave the home team some hope and after their wing hitter Matt found the floor on several successive attacks, North Down clawed back the points and ran out 27-25 set winners.
After a severe team talk at the turn around, Head Coach Grant sent his team out for the 3rd set, bringing in Fabian in the middle to bolster the block. He did the job well and along with some clever shot placement from opposite Crooks and middle Brettschneider, and more excellent serving from Pilch, Lynx were able to take the set 25-20.
Sensing another win, Lynx were spurred on and setter Gouveia was able to find his attackers consistently due to the fine passing display from libero Ricardo. Young setter Callow got his chance too and showed his potential with some clever outside sets. Opposite Crooks and wing hitter Pilch again ran the show with Pilch having a long ruin of unopposed serves. Lynx won the set 25-13 and with it the match 3-1.
Head Coach Chris Grant said after the match, “We had to grind out this win after building up large runs of points in each set but then allowing ND to come back at us. We need to work on our consistency and pick-ups from the block. I have to point out the great display once again from Mirek Pilch and the positive impact young setter Rory Callow had on settling the team when he came on.”