Late last Saturday afternoon Blaze travelled to Lisburn for a vital National League clash with both teams needing the 3 points a win would bring. Blaze were without Scott and Lynx were without the influential Hamilton or Pilch, but were able to call on long-time absentee Dolliver for his first match this season.
With Lynx hoping to finally show their class after a mixed season, they started well with some decent serving from Plinski and captain Crooks. Some excellent attacking from Gouveia and Fabian through the middle allowed Lynx to pull a few points ahead but some good middle attacking from Blaze allowed them to claw a few points back. However towards the end of the set some clever and precise setting from Lynx setter Abdulhamid to outside Oshoke and opposite Crooks, allowed Lynx to sprint to the finish and take the set 25-18.
The second set followed pretty much the same pattern with some excellent serving from Crooks, Fabian and Plinski in particular which completely threw the Blaze passers. This disrupted their offense and only some fine hits from Hunter and Workman kept them in the game. Lynx were getting more and more confident as their teamwork and individual skills began to shine and some more fine hitting from Oshoke and Crooks allowed them to cement their lead and take the set 25-19.
Blaze knew they had to do better in order to try and take the last Celtic Cup play-off spot and so they came out ready to fight for the third set. However Lynx were ready for this and some inspired middle blocking from Gouveia and Fabian immediately put the pressure back on Blaze. Crooks capitalised on his big front row with some excellent serving and Abdulhamid played a big part in allowing many one-one-one hits from Oshoke, Plinski and Crooks. Blaze put up a good fight with hitting from Workman, Hunter and Park, but they struggled to find the floor with Lynx libero Clarke playing a stormer! Dolliver too made some excellent defensive pick-ups which Lynx were able to convert into much-celebrated points. Lynx kept the pressure on and took the third set 25-22 and with it the game 3-0.
This keeps their hopes of winning the National League in their first season very much alive. Head Coach Grant said after the match, “We really needed this win today. Not just for the points, but to keep proving to ourselves if we work hard for the team, we can play very well and can compete with any team in the league.”
Thanks has to go to Laurelhill Community College and referees John Robb, Vincent Ramirez, Mark White and Mark Broadhurst.