VOLLEYBALL: Ballymoney Blaze lose out to PVC in tough game

PVC 3 BALLYMONEY BLAZE 1

THE Blaze volleyball girls knew going into this match it would be a tough one on away ground. After facing PVC four times last year with two wins each, Ballymoney were ready to fight. Unfortunately this was not to be Blaze’s game with PVC winning 3 sets to 1.

The first set began with a fast pace which continued for the duration of the game. The Ballymoney girls usual setter Hannah Witherow was absent for this game but her position was played by universal Kerry Kirkpatrick.

Kerry did brilliantly to adjust to the position and set up some great balls for middles Nicola Cochrane and Ellen Monteith. The hits did not go undefended however. Libero, Małgorzata Wołoszyn, had some fantastic pick up’s and put the blaze girls under pressure. Caitlin de Jode was forced to play universal but coped brilliantly, hitting some left handed cross court balls that were untouched by the opposition! Unfortunately the PVC women’s serves were too strong for the Blaze girls to keep under control and gave them a continuous advantage throughout the set and just clinched them the set 25-23.

The Blaze girls were slightly on edge coming into the second set and regrettably allowed PVC to take a decisive lead. The majority of the set was spent trying to settle and reorganise! PVC hit Blaze with some damaging hits from universal Marta Moskwik that were difficult to control. Towards the end of the set Blaze got a more efficient block up to help backcourt but it was too late as the set ended 25-11 to PVC.

The Ballymoney girls went into the third set determined to redeem themselves. The standard of play from both teams in this set was phenomenal. Hits from all positions were well angled and smartly played. Ellen Monteith made the observation of spaces in court behind blockers which led to many points being won on tips. Cheering from the Blaze girls dampened the opposition’s spirits and helped to motivate. Serve receive improved and setters were open to more options making for an exciting set. Blaze managed to win 25- 14.

Ballymoney’s motivation continued into the next set. With a good start this set looked promising. Teanna Mills, from Coleraine High, was able to pass some great balls on serve receive. PVC called timeouts early in the set to try and break up Blazes rhythm and unfortunately it worked. A few missed serves and shanked passes made all the difference. Ballymoney still fought incredibly hard but the older, and more experienced team were able to take over. PVC won the set and match 25- 20.

The Blaze girls look forward to their next meeting with PVC for the chance to equal and show they can take them on home turf. Thank you to referee Patrik Gos.

Belfast Olympia 0 Ballymoney Blaze II 3

On Tuesday evening, Blaze seconds travelled to Methody College in Belfast to take on an experienced Belfast Olympia team. This was the local teams second game in two days, and Blaze were looking to get back on track after a heavy defeat at the hands of UUJ the night before at Dalriada.

The scheduling wasn’t ideal for the Blaze players and led to an almost entirely different team taking to the court for this game, with the experience of Ian Walker the stand out loss for the team.

As the game began, Blaze rushed into an early lead with John White showing his experience by spreading the attack from his setting position. This was all made possible by some great defensive work in the back court by Johnny McClenaghan, back in his more familiar Libero position after a brief foray into setting over the past few games, and Matthew Boyd who has settled well into the team. The powerful attack from Adam Hunter and Matthew Bertenshaw was enough for Blaze as they staved off a late comeback by Olympia to come away with a 25-21 first set win.

The second set started with Blaze making some sloppy mistakes, with passing and communication errors coming from all around the court. After some well placed time-outs, Blaze sorted out their issues and came back strong putting themselves into a great position to claim the set. With the scores tied at 23-23 the set hung in the balance. With the teams trading points it was Blaze who came through the strongest, holding their nerve to claim a 28-26 win through some great play by Ciaran White and Nathan Derbyshire.

The third set was almost a carbon copy of the first as Blaze came out firing from the first point with Adam Hunter claiming some big points over the Olympia block. Again, Blaze let a huge lead slip to a small margin, but were able to trade enough points as the set went on to claim the set 25-22 and win the match with a big 3-0 scoreline.

This keeps Blaze in a great position going into the festive period, in joint second position in the table behind UUJ. There next game will be at Dalriada on Wednesday 5th November at home to Aztecs.