After some intense training during the mid-season break, the Lynx team were eager to get back on court to prove they were up to the challenge of playing in the 7 Financial National League during their inaugural season. The visitors were a young Aztecs Eagles team eager to boost their growing reputations after narrowly beating Lynx in a five set thriller just after Christmas.
The match started pretty evenly with both teams trading points up to the 10 point mark. Then Paddy Crooks stepped up to serve. His aggressive jump serve took the Aztecs passing unit by surprise and he went on a run of 5 points. This allowed Lynx to build up some momentum and along with some fine blocking by Fabian and clever setting by Abdulhamid, they kept ahead, winning the set 25-22.
The closeness of the first set gave Aztecs some hope and they came out fighting in the second set. Some superb quick attacks from Stewart and serving from Irwin kept the two teams pretty close up until the late teens but young Lynx libero Clarke made some superb last gap defense moves which Lynx were then able to capitalise on through fine setting from Gouveia and hitting from Hamilton and Oshoke. Lynx middle attacker Borrowiecki also pulled off some aggressive middle attacks which caught the Aztec defense on its back foot. After a tactical substitution by Coach Grant, the injured Pilch was replaced and this gave Lynx the impetus to push ahead and take the set 25-21.
The third set was taken by the scruff of the neck by some find serving by Oshoke, who went on an 8 point run right at the start of the set. No matter how hard they fought back, this was too much of a lead for Aztecs to overturn and as the Lynx team began to show their experience, they had some superb blocks and kill attacks from all positions. Lynx Captain Schaper pulled of some clever blockingWith a time-out score of 16-5, Lynx were never going to be caught and they leapt to a 25-13 set score and with it the match 3-0.
Head Coach Chris Grant said after the match, “We are finally beginning to show our potential. New signing Jack Clarke had a great game and he will definitely help our attack become more efficient. Paddy Crooks showed a lot of his potential today too and won us many points and our setter Abdul is starting to find his attackers regularly with consistent sets. We are all looking forward to the rest of the season. I have to say too that I was very impressed by the young Aztec team who showed a never say die attitude and were able to play some good volleyball themselves even though we placed them under a lot of pressure.”
Lisburn’s #6 David Hamilton led all scorers with 11 points from 21 swings.
Lisburn Lynx wishes to thank Laurelhill Community College and the referees Vincent Ramirez, Mark White and Irena Mihneva.