Richhill Raiders played host to Ulster Jordanstown in the 7 Financial National League on Wednesday night hoping to keep their title hopes alive. Ulster Jordanstown were favourites heading into the game having won all of their matches in the National League so far, but knew they faced a tough test against a Raiders team who have found good form lately.
The first set saw both teams create strong offensive plays with little errors, and the scores remained tight mid set at 15-15. Raiders middle blocker Steven Wilson was in great form with 4kills from 4 attempts and 3 blocks and helped secure a much needed run of points for the home team. As the Raiders block tightened, the Ulster side knew they would have to find points from somewhere, but the Raiders defence proved too strong, picking up a lot of attacks, allowing the team to finish off the set 25-19.
The second set started in the same fashion as the first set, with both teams trading points. The Raiders’ block remained strong, which caused Ulster some difficulty, but Ulster setter Conor Doherty was able to start spreading the offence, which allowed them to generate powerful attacks and claw their way back into the set. With the scores level at 20-20 both teams knew that mistakes couldn’t be made. Richhill player Mark Hazley went back to serve and with good work from front row blockers Mark Fulton, Adam Bell and Stuart Hamilton were able to create a run of 4 points. The Ulster side fought hard, trying not to let the set get away from them, but a side out attack from Raiders stopped the Ulster side from gaining momentum and took the set win for a 2-0 lead.
Richhill knew that only a 3-0 win would keep their hopes of winning the National League alive and came out strong taking an early 13-6 lead. The Ulster side were determined to pick up their game and fought back to 13-11. With all the momentum in Ulster’s favour, it was an uphill battle for the Richhill team and the scores were once again locked tight at 17-17. The Richhill Team were able to build a crucial run of points and regain the edge, and with great diving pick ups from Libero Lee Taylor, Richhill were able to finish off the 3rd set 25-19.
Raiders Captain Mark Fulton said after the game “ everyone in the team knew what we had to do to keep our title hopes alive, and I thought all the guys put in a very solid performance and thoroughly deserved the win tonight.”
The Raiders would like to thank the Referees Graham Bell, Ashley Tsang and Andrew Priestly and also the continued support from their sponsors; The Normandy Inn, Db Squared, Patterson’s Cars, Geoff Telford Photography and Hanna’s Paints.
The Raiders Next match is away to Aztecs Eagles on Thursday 31st March in Portadown College.