NL Ragazzi at the JNL Play-offs

Sunday 9th December 2012
Wishaw Sports Centre
The JNL Play-offs

Play off: Semi Final

The NL Ragazzi Juniors were expected to make light of the less experienced North Lanarkshire side and did so with some style. The pattern was set in the first two points when three perfect passes allowed setter Priya Gill to set three first tempo attacks to Mhairi Agnew, who promptly dispatched them to the floor.  Emma Wotherspoon served like a demon and with this lead in place Ragazzi went on to take the set 25 – 14.

North Lanarkshire stepped up their serving game in the second set and this temporarily stopped the flow of points. However NL Ragazzi had too much hitting weight, and Elise Rodgers and Michelle Allan scored with regularity to ease them towards set closure. The Stonelaw twosome of Megan Quinn and Lucy Scouler played wonderful tactical shots to complete a 2- 0 victory and secure a shot at Marr College in the Final

So to the Final.

The game started cagily as both sides attempted to gain the upper hand. The vital breakthrough went to Marr as the ever excellent Katie Barbour produced a string of top class services which found Ragazzi wanting.

Ragazzi  came back strongly but only managed to contain Marr without reducing the deficit. Priya Gill and Michelle Allan performed superbly in their respective roles but an extremely competent Marr side completed a first set victory.

The opening exchanges in the second set were even, with neither side able to dominate due to the  high quality defences. Su were over-revving in the midst of the set and brought on Lucy Scouler to steady the ship.  Meanwhile Marr unobtrusively edged to a 24 – 20 lead.

At that point Michelle Allen went to the service line and despite the pressure  of the occasion, the crowd and the score, served Su to a 25-24 lead.

Michelle’s  excellent tactical serving co-incided with Priya and Mhairi finally managing to block the excellent  Katie Barbour out of the game,  and without her scoring capacity Marr lacked a cutting edge. 27-25 set finished.

So for the third time this season these excellent youngsters were going the distance with positions level at 1-1.

The large crowd was treated to an outstanding demonstration of Junior volleyball with Elise Rodgers’ power providing an extension to the clever game Su were playing. Two unsung heroes in the local line up were proving difficult for the Ayrshire side to break. The Su baby, Raveen Gill and middle blocker Megan Quinn ran frequent interference in Marr’s plans.

Marr took a lead at 13-10 but true to form Su came back to 14-13 before Marr worked hard to take the final three points due to some excellent variations from the Marr setter as she set a new pattern that Su were unable to cope with.

So the Juniors failed to win but they played extremely well, and in so doing have exceeded expectations……….and they will get another shot at Marr in the Finals weekend.

Finally a Merry Christmas to all, and the future is undoubtedly bright in the NL Ragazzi corner.