Competitive volleyball returnedto Garvagh after many years of absence in the form of Garvagh Phoenix against Ballymoney Blaze in the Northern Ireland Volleyball Men’s Division 1.
A decent crowd gathered to see the newly formed Phoenix team take on the undefeated champions elect Ballymoney Blaze II.
Garvagh Phoenix got off to a nervy start, going behind early in the first set, struggling to contain the Ballymoney Blaze attack and making some fundamental errors.
As the set progressed however Garvagh grew in confidence to keep within touching distance with some gritty defending, covering the court well and getting blocks set.
Ballymoney Blaze kept their noses in front for most of the set but Garvagh clawed their way back and took the lead for the first time in the set at 24-23 and with their backs against the wall Blaze came out firing and won three of the next four points to clinch the first set 27-25.
Garvagh had surprised a few people in the first set with their style of play and hoped to push on in the second. 1-0 Blaze
Garvagh started better in the second set, getting off to an 8-4 lead, only to see this slip away very quickly with some nicely rolled hits and Blaze finding the gaps in the Phoenix defence.
Garvagh seemed to find themselves on their heels for most of this game, tips off the blocks weren’t falling their way their own hits weren’t getting through a tough defence.
Blaze raced into a 16-9 lead, Garvagh tried to rally back getting the odd good hit in but Blaze comfortably took the second set with a 25-16 victory. 2-0 Blaze.
The third set started evenly with both teams exchanging a few good rallies, but Garvagh were tiring and a lack of real match practice was starting to show. Blaze had tightened up their game significantly from the first set and were getting nice hits in and finding gaps in the Garvagh defence more and more often. Garvagh seem to be trying too hard to turn the game in their favour and their hits weren’t finding their mark as often and too many were not making it past the Blaze blockers.
At 18-9 and the game slipping away Phoenix turned to the youth on the bench in a hope of late come back and despite some late scrambling from Garvagh that fired them up for the last few points, in the end Ballymoney ran out the easy victors in the third set 25-13.
Final score Garvagh Phoenix 0- 3 Ballymoney Blaze II.