The City Boys Head North

Saturday 10th  November  2012
The John Syer Top Teams Cup

Bon Accord  V  City of Glasgow Ragazzi

Heading North……….

This interesting tie was sandwiched between the long journey to and from Aberdeen.  The commitment of the Bon Acccord Club, to playing in the top flight and making the long drive South on a regular basis is remarkable.  The venue for this second round match was the excellent Robert Gordon’s University Sports Hall, which thankfully is on the Southern edge of the City.  

The three hour drive North passed with conversations and reflections on the National League match played between the two sides last week (November 3rd)  at Coltness.  Bon Accord had won that tie three sets to zero, had played very well, had celebrated their win then eaten all the cakes……!  Their game plan had been effective, and while the set scores were very close, the Boys from the North were worthy of their win.

Part of the conversation was about the change in personnel for our team.  With key players being unavailable through work commitments and injury, we were down to a bare six, and had Libero Cammy Galloway playing in the swing hitter’s slot.  We acknowledged we were ‘up against it’; we recognised it would take a huge effort to reverse last week’s result;  we believed it could be done.

As the match warm up started the door to the gym opened and a whole bunch of enthusiastic kids came into the hall to support the home side.  Added to the parents, friends,  and family members who were already there, it made for an excellent atmosphere.  Bon Accord are to be congratulated for the way they are developing volleyball in the North East, and ‘selling’ the game to kids in particular.

Jim Gill and Kenny Gilchrist, the match officials, concluded the warm up and got the game started and it was as if the ‘in-between week’ had not happened.  BA won the first point of the match with a service ace, and celebrated.  We were untidy, they were efficient, and the crowd cheered happily.  But unlike last week we went into both first set  technical time outs in front.  Steve Todd was setting an ‘interesting’ offence, using all of his hitters well, and keeping the Aberdeen block guessing.  Cammy Galloway was passing well and growing into his role as a hitter, and at 20 – 16 up we were confident of taking the first set – we did.  25 – 18.

BA regrouped.  They altered their line up to combat our offence.  They changed the pattern of the game a little to improve their defence, they targeted Waldi Tomanisc with the service, and were always on top of set two – winning it 26 – 24.  It was tight, it was tense, both teams had opportunities, but they took theirs.

One of the small sub-plot stories that was unfolding in the game was the battle for supremacy at the net between our setter Steve Todd and their outside spiker Andy Stronach.  It was fascinating.  Both are top players.  Both understand their role in the team, and the importance of it.  Andy is a ‘go to’ hitter for Bon Accord, Steve Todd is an excellent blocker… on.  Andrew wiped off the block.  He tipped over it.  He hit around it.  He smashed the ball through it, and Steve hung on.  He presented a formidable barrier and forced Andrew to hesitate just enough to allow the defence to play.  It was terrific stuff played in the best of competitive spirits by both players.

Set 3 was sitting tight with the score at 20 –19 in our favour, and Ali Galloway had a run of uncharacteristic hitting errors.  Time outs didn’t help, nor did a change in the hitting tactics, and BA won it 25 – 21.  But the fourth set was different.  We took an early lead and hung on.  We had changed service tactics, and we had flipped the line up to change the blocking-hitting match ups, and it worked as we took the set 25 – 19.

Into the sprint to the finish that is a fifth set.  Both of our Middle Blockers had played steadily throughout the game, and both came up with big plays (particularly a thundering 5th set hit from Callum)  when it mattered.  Steve Todd had served well all game, and came up with two back to back aces in the fifth.  Ali Galloway rediscovered his timing and touch to pound the ball for key points and it was over at 15 – 11. A very welcome 3 – 2 win for the City Boys, that was full of endeavour, focus and personality.  The scale of the turn around in the performance in just one week was very encouraging, as was the attitude and application of the players.

This was a very enjoyable match, played in the best of spirits by both teams, and well handled by match officials Jim and Kenny.  The parting memory, as we left the gym, was of the smiles on the faces, of the schoolkid-spectators as they paired up to pepper with each other on the now vacant court……the next generation of players in the making.