Cup Finals Weekend

Saturday 8th April 2017

Just another day at the office?

It could have been ‘Just another day at the Office’… was after all a Saturday, and we had three teams playing volleyball, just like we do every Saturday, except this one was different, this was the Cup Finals Weekend.

The differences were evident as soon as we walked into the gym at the Pleasance Sports Centre in Edinburgh.  The splendour of the match court with its Taraflex floor, the colours of the volleyball banners that covered the walls, the drama of the spotlight entrance from the teams that would compete for the trophies, the outstanding match announcing from Andy Fleming, the clockwork-like arrangements for the officiating and finally the excellence of the award ceremonies all bore witness that this was so much more than ‘just another day at the office’…….

The boys from Su II kicked off proceedings with the first match of the day.  They played against Ian Brownlee’s terrific young team, and the Su Boys had high hopes of winning the match having beaten the Edinburgh Boys in their two league encounters this season. We warmed up well, we looked confident, we talked with enthusiasm about how we were going to structure the performance and capture the win, and when the match started we weren’t allowed to do anything but witness an outstanding performance by Ian’s youngsters.

The match had barely started and we were 1 – 5 down.  We regrouped and worked at our game and managed to be 8-13 down.  We talked to each other we urged ourselves to do better and we were 11-20 down to Mitchel Brown’s and Ben McHardie’s outside hitting, and all we could do was hope they came off the performance edge they had established.  It didn’t happen, and the set disappeared 16-25.

This was more than an ‘oops’, this was a major upset!  Set 2 we were 6-10 down and the pattern from set one stayed the same.  We were 9-15 down and beginning to worry.  We were 13-16 down and step up Captain Gordie McGilivray.  Back in his more familiar role as off-setter, Gordie took charge and ripped a couple of unstoppable spikes out of the back-row, and we were winning 19-16.  The Edinburgh players dug deep but we saw out the set 25-22 to square the match.

Set three we played better.  With Charlie McFarlane and Mark Hickey revisiting last week’s heroics, with Euan Laws scoring crucial blocks and Marco Llarden scoring freely we were 8-2 up, except no one told the Edinburgh Guys that they were supposed to lose, and they clawed the game back to 15-13.  Cue action from Libero Simone Barlocco who made a series of terrific pick-ups which our spikers converted into points, and the set was ours with a 25-23 score.

Was it tight?  Yes!  Was it tense?  Very! And at 8-4 up in the fourth the Edinburgh Boys were worthy of their lead.  Step up setter Scott Mackenzie, who established an effective link with MBs Callum J and Calum S.  Step up libero Stuart Wylie who scrambled effectively.  Step up Donatus Repecka who steadies the passing unit, and  step up Georgios Michael who stood at the base line with the score 20-20 and served out the match.

Cue celebrations.  Cue the ‘Bouncy-Bouncy’ circle.  Cue the medal ceremony with the gold coloured ones coming to the Boys of Su II!  Spare a thought for the young players from the City of Edinburgh, they contributed hugely to what was a terrific National Plate Final, and their day will come…………but in the first match of the day the honours and the bragging rights went to Su Ragazzi II – well done boys!

Making history.
As the day progressed and the atmosphere heated up match 4 saw the Fabulous Suettes attempt to make history.  

Going into this Final the Su Ragazzi ladies had never won the Scottish Cup – the only trophy the Club has never won.  Going into this match the Suettes were supremely confident of beating the University of St Andrews Students.  Going into this match the Suettes were determined to put on a show of Power Volleyball, and when the dust has settled they had achieved all of that.

The Suettes were simply unstoppable!  They won the serve-pass battle by a country mile.  They worked their socks off to control the ball and build attacks.  They smashed their outside hits through, off and over the St Andrews block, and the speed of our middle attack ripped their defence to shreds – the girls were relentless in their pursuit of points and performance excellence.  

The first set was won 25-19.  The second set we stepped up the pressure and won 25-11.  The third set we totally dominated to win 25-13 and the celebrations began. As the players ‘High-Fived’ each other there were record breaking smiles, and they wore their Gold-coloured medals proudly as Captain Jillian Barton held the trophy aloft.  A fantastic display of power-volleyball to make history!  What a story!  The Fabulous Suettes at their fabulous best!  It was a privilege to be there and share in the experience.

Very well done to Vince Krawczyk and his fabulous team!

Two finals played two finals won – one more to go.

Winning 10 – 10
The last match of the day saw the City of Glasgow Ragazzi take on Andrew Stronach’s Bon Accord.  The Su Boys were going for a 10th Scottish Cup win, to match the 10th  League Championship that they won last weekend when they travelled North to play…..Bon Accord!

The Glasgow side won last week’s match with a comfortable 3 – 0 score line, so the Cup Final result was supposed to be a forgone conclusion, except nobody told Andy and his troops.  They came out fighting.  They came out serving as if their lives depended upon it. They came out with a clear sense of purpose and a game plan designed to achieve it, and it all made for terrific competition!

Set one they clustered a series of points, then we did the same.  Set one they called a time out and then we had to do the same.  Set one they thundered an unstoppable middle attack then we did the same.  It was ding-dong stuff with the crowd cheering every play, and we captured the set with a 25-20 score line
In set 2 the boys from the North continued their barrage of our passing unit, serving thunderous missiles with a clear tactical intent, and setter Marc McLaughlin was having to work very hard to establish enough variety in his offence.  But then our block was doing a great job on their outside hitters, and our outside spikers were managing to avoid that outcome, and the battles continued.

At 16-11 up we had an advantage, but the Bon Accord players clawed it back to level the score. At 18-16 up we had a glimmer of daylight, but at 19 all it was still anybody’s, until the outstanding Eddie Gorecki served 6 times and the set was ours 25-19.  Eddie’s Mum had flown in from Poland to watch the match, and the smile she wore for his performance lit up the whole gym.

Set three started and we were 5 – 1 down almost immediately, despite the introduction of Captain Ally Galloway into the action.  The Bon Accord players simply refused to lie down. We rallied and closed the gap to 10 all, but then they pulled away again to lead 15-12.  We gritted out teeth, refocused our serve, passed a deal better, and were winning 19-15.  From there we didn’t look back! The end of the set went point for point, until they missed a serve at 24-21 in our favour and we did the ‘bouncy-bouncy dance’ in celebration.

City of Glasgow Ragazzi winners of the League and Cup double – fantastic! 10-10 another piece of history.  Very well done to Captain Ally Galloway and his team.

Su Ragazzi Volleyball Club winners of the Scottish Plate for men, and the Scottish Cup for men and women, an outstanding achievement and the best picture of the day…..Su Ragazzi VC – it’s all about the people!

Well done to us all!  Su Ragazzi VC playing volleyball, supporting each other, winning trophies…..perhaps it was just another day at the office after all!