South Ayrshire on a Sunny Day

Match day 3 of the 2012/13 National League season

Saturday 27th October 2012

South Ayrshire III  V  Su Ragazzi II

The last fixture date in October dawned as a beautiful Autumn day, with clear blue skies for the Su II men’s trip to Prestwick, to play South Ayrshire III.  We deliberately arrived at the venue early to ensure the players had enough time to prepare properly for the match, and for the competition.  In the absence of Libero Stuart Mackenzie some re-organisation of the passing unit was required, as was an understanding of the strategy to be used in this match.

As the home side erected the match court, and adjusted the net, we talked of the crucial ‘battles’ that were to take place, and the possible answers to the problems ‘South’ would pose.   The relationships between the two Clubs is a strong one that dates back many years.  South Ayrshire are a big Club (like us), they believe in developing young players (like we do) and they are committed to supporting the development of the Scottish game (as we are).  The atmosphere in the gym prior to the game was very calm, was very focused, was very good, as the players went into their warm up routines.

Set one started and the two teams traded points back and forward.  Neither could find an advantage.  For our side Jordan Scott and Conor Walker were beginning to come to terms with the changes in the passing unit, and despite several tough serves from South, they managed to provide options for setter Marc McLaughlin. Marc took them, and we opened a cluster of points gap to lead 15-9.  We never lost the lead, and South never recovered.  South Ayrshire had Su Ragazzi Assistant Coach Ross McLennan in their starting line up, and that was a tad distracting at some points, but Ross wasn’t firing on all cylinders on this day, and we took the first set 25 – 14.

Set two started the same way.  Both teams traded points back and forward.  The side out units were dominating the play, and at 11 - 9 it was either teams' game, and then Ben Wright scored a terrific block, and backed that up by serving two back-to-back aces.  We clustered again, and were 17 – 10 up……and we didn’t look back, winning the set 25-16.

Chris de Lattre had a lot to do with the stability of the unit.  His experience and support for the young players meant there was a calmness to our play, even in the phases of the game where we were scrambling about to keep the ball off the floor.  

However, in set three we lost some of the cohesion that we had previously demonstrated.  The timing link between Marc McLaughlin and off setter Gordon McGilivrey became fragmented, leading to Gordon making one or two hitting errors.  South Ayrshire capitalised on this and on the hesitation in our play which followed the errors, and we found ourselves at 20 – 20.

We didn’t panic, we didn’t become flustered, we stayed focused on the match plan we had discussed in the pregame meeting, and we saw the set out 25 – 22 to win the match 3 – 0.  It was an excellent performance, from our young side.  

Sets four and five we changed things about.  Blair Gillies came in and played well, despite having sat on the bench for three sets.  In set four we were 3 – 9 down, but rallied to win it 25 – 20.  This was another good lesson for the young players to learn, that winning games is about being systematic and applying the game strategy.  Set 5  I changed the passing unit.  There wasn’t enough time for the new unit to ‘bed down’ and South deservedly won 15 – 8.  

This was an excellent performance from our young team, in a good level match, that was played in the best of spirits.  Next week we play Lenzie – that will be a toughie!

ps – Ross…..really!?  Grey socks…..?