After both teams losing their 1st game week fixtures, last year’s Northern Ireland league winners Ballymoney Blaze where looking to get back to winning ways. The Craigavon Aztecs had a different plan in mind and put themselves back into contention to take the Northern Ireland Title for themselves. As all Aztec v Blaze games it started out slow both, teams just looking to exploit errors on either side of the net.
The main attack forces for both teams were their leading outsides; for Ballymoney Adam Hunter and for Aztecs Maijec Wojciechowski, this allowed both teams to consistently side out and not let either team get a run of points together and pull out any sort of gap. The first set was hard fought and ended up Aztecs 25-23 taking 1st blood in the match.
The 2nd set saw Aztecs settle into more of a rhythm with their defence becoming consistent for the 1st half of the set before Blaze made a couple of tactical substitutions that changed the tempo for them. Blaze played as the 1st set but put in a good performance for the 2nd half of the set clawing back points to square the points up at 18-18. With Blaze fighting hard not to go down 2 sets to nil and Aztecs fighting hard to push the dominance over their opponents it made for some great points with again the final set finishing 25-23.
Going 2-0 up Aztecs set up in an irregular starting rotation hoping to get the bad play from the middle of the sets that kept allowing Blaze to push harder, which meant Aztecs would take a bad start to the set and all going well match Blaze towards the end of the game. As it was planned Blaze took the lead and within a couple of rotations and a timeout later Aztecs where back in the hunt for the match, Blaze knowing a 3-0 defeat could be on the cards and 2 matches losing streak could put them into a relegation battle that no team wants to be in. Blaze showed what they were capable of with the scores at 13-14 they served 7 and their block and block defence sprung into life stuffing 5 balls and making Aztecs take their last timeout of the set. It looked like Blaze were coming back into the tie, until everything was changed with a double substitute and change of setter for Aztecs, this left Aztecs full of attacking opportunities with a lot to do at 21-14 down Aztecs rallied, served the toughest of the game and got lucky with a couple of errors from their opponents, once the subs had done their job got back to 22-22 the substitutes where reversed to leave it to the starting six in their strongest rotation to kill off the game not before we had to go 2 clear points at 24-24 and at 25-24 Aztecs’ opposite finished the game with 1 final kill.
Craigavon Aztecs Volleyball would like to thank all the supporters and Referees Wilson Greenlee & Peter Lundy of Richhill Raiders. Aztecs avarded their Setter and Captain Andrew Priestly Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the gam.
Aztecs next play Ulster Jordanstown away with Ulster high flying at the moment a win or loss could decide if either of these teams will take top spot in the Northern Ireland National League.