The Elusive Fourth Win

That elusive fourth win….

Saturday 26th October, Su Ragazzi Volleyball Club takes to the road.

Match 1 demanded an early start for the boys of Su Ragazzi II - a trip along the M8 to Scotland’s capital, to face NUVOC Volleyball Club with a 10.30 FBS.  Craggs Sports Centre was the venue for what turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining Division II encounter, superbly handled by match officials Emily Smith and Jean Bruce.

Both teams demonstrated intensity in their approach to the competition, both teams demonstrated control of the ball, and attacking intent, both teams demonstrated a keen desire to protect the floor in defence, and we were just that bit sharper at all of these things.

If there was an award for man-of-the-match then NUVOC’s Findlay Haddow would be in the running for it, and so would every one of our players!  We had excellence all over the place.  From the passing, to the setting, to the net play, to the blocking, to the floor defence, perhaps especially in our serving, we pushed NUVOC to the point where they were uncertain, unsure, and very uncomfortable.

Set 1 we took an early lead and held onto it.  The 25-14 scoreline says we were playing well.  It doesn’t say NUVOC were playing well, but they were!  The second set was a terrific advert for Scottish Volleyball.  Full of lung-bursting rallies, full of fierce competition, full of industry and effort, full of great volleyball and like last week we found ourselves 20-22 down.  Marc McLaughlin went to the service line, and four plays later we had won the set 25-22.  Same as last week Marc’s last two serves were aces….pressure?  - what pressure!

The come-back saw us wearing huge smiles for the success, and saw NUVOC in disarray.   Set three they couldn’t reach the performance heights the match demanded and we ran away with it 25-7.  Game done!  3 sets to 0 win – fabulous!

We played the last two sets, and we won them 25-21 and 15-12.  The 5 – 0 scoreline doesn’t flatter us, because we were excellent, but nor does it accurately represent the contribution the  NUVOC  team made to this outstanding event.

Match 1 – played one won one.  Good start.

Match 2 saw the Fabulous Suettes travel to to South Ayrshire  to play long time rivals Troon ladies!

Well,well, well.
A trip to the seaside proved to be eventful for the Suettes and introduced our two North American players to the " spirit of Troon".  The competitive spirit that Troon bring to every situaiton  was never more evident than during the first set when Su, in complete control, took an early 16-6 lead. A good start or what..... but Troon simply kept the ball alive in the next phase and turned the game on its head,  and Su came out wondering how they could have lost the set 24-26.

Troon sustained the momentum into the second set and they raced to an eight point lead. They then showed anything Su could do they could do better and conceded the set 25 - 21. The rallies were long, hard and competitive and both sides ran their bench and the Su bench was adding distinctly more value to the match.
The game swung towards Su in the third set as the Su attack capitalised on the quality setting provided by Ellen Barwise and Emma Clarkston.  This allowed the hitters to play power and tactics and they ran out worthy winners 25-21.

Set four followed the same pattern with Su being the aggressors and forcing Troon into dogged defence and the legendary Troon spirit was in evidence as they ground out a 25-12 win to take the game into a 'winner takes all' fifth set.

Su pushed back and did not allow Troon to bully them and an 8-6 lead at the change of ends was just reward. Su found the energy from the baseline to break the Troon passing unit giving them a 14-10 cushion. Despite heroics from Alex and Morgan Troon were hanging on and it was left to Jillian Galloway to serve out the match.

It was a pretty good advert for the women's game and Craig Faill, National Women's coach saw enough the realise that there are some selections ahead of him as Juniors upstage the seniors. Well done to both sides for providing an excellent Saturday afternoon's entertainment.

Match 2 played two won two – terrific stuff.

Match 3 saw the Baby-Suettes playing NUVOC Ladies II – with the match again being staged at Craggs Sports Centre.

The Suettes were stretched because several players had called off.  So much so that Coach John French had arranged for Megan Taylor to be called up from the Juniors to play her first ever NL match.  Megan was both terrified and excited – most of the Suettes were…….

Set one we won 25-21.  Both teams took some time to settle, and the score line was full of ‘points clusters’, which indicated that both teams were finding it hard to side out.  Our efforts were helped by the calm leadership offered by Jen Downs, and Marketa Hola.  Both experienced players, both keen to put something back into the Club by supporting the young players, both playing their part in helping the team settle.

Set 2 we lost 19-25.  The kids got distracted, they lost focus a little, and they had to cope with some ‘howitzer-level’ serves from the NUVOC team.  Set 3 had the same profile, NUVOC played a much better net game than we did and held together as a team really well – they captured the set 25-22 and we were trailing in the match.

We remained calm.  We made the substitution patterns we had agreed at the start of the game, we re-inforced the need to play to the tactics we had discussed, and slowly, slowly we came back into the game to take the fourth set 25-22.

Set 5 we were terrific and had the game sown up with a 12 points to 3 lead.  At that stage we talked about not relaxing, we talked about staying focused and seeing the game out…….and when the score line read 13-12 for us we tried not to panic….we tried……step up setter Lucy Scouller with some very confident handling of the ball, step up Marketa with her thundering right arm – two points delivered – game over – cue leap about in celebration!

Young players need time, support and opportunities to develop – this game today provided all of that.  Well done to the girls, and many thanks to NUVOC for a very enjoyable day.

Match 3 – played 3 won 3 – whoop-whoop!

Match 4 – City of Glasgow Ragazzi V Edinburgh Jets at St Augustine’s High School in Edinburgh.

This is the ‘Big-Boys’ stuff.  The court full of ex GB players, full of experience, full of great athletes and great plays, and a healthy crowd who were thrilled by the speed and the power on show.

We took the first set 25-23, but Jets were just warming up.  Set 2 they came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, forcing the pace of the game, demanding control from their players, throwing themselves around the court in defence, and taking the set 25-19.

Set 3 we regrouped.  We changed our service tactics, we pushed their top spiker into a bottleneck, then worked super hard to compete, and we took the set 25 – 18.  

Set 4 we were slow, and they weren’t.  Set four we were sluggish and they were compact, we were untidy and they were clear of their roles and responsibilities.  Set 4 we were trailing 4 points to 9 before we really got started, and then came the game's  best passage of play from both teams.  We went dig-set-kill for a series of 12 plays, neither team asking for or needing any help from the other – great volleyball. At the end of the set we had closed the gap, but Jets remained focused to see the set out and win 25-21.  

Set 5 we turned at 8 leading by 2, but then Martyn Johnson went to the baseline and served a series of 5 tactical jump serves.  He opened the door for his blocking unit to ‘clamp onto’ our key hitters, and they did.  We eventually made the side out, but with the score at 9 – 12 all Jets had to do was side out to win, and they did.  The score of 15-12 to the Jets was a fair reflection of the match.  If we had won, that would have been a fair reflection of the match…………it was a super encounter, well done to all that were involved.

Match 4 – played 4 – won 3…….and we are still looking for that elusive fourth win.


Sunday 27th October

Sunday 27th saw the NL Ragazzi Juniors clinch a place in the play-offs.

A full squad of twelve for juniors and all players contributed to the success of the day. The stars at the start of the day were the parents who set up the hall, prepared the arena to match standard and added value to the day by providing a purvey for the opposition.Thanks you for your support for the club and your kids.

The kids lived up to the standards and proceeded to demonstrate excellence on court and left North Lanarkshire reeling after an 11-25 loss. The neighbours rallied but could not contain a rampant NL Ragazzi who stormed to a 25-8 win.

The final set was a showcase for the young u-15' s who matched the North Lanarkshire side before finally edging them out 18-16. The game hinged on the hard work done from the service line and winning the passing battle.

Game two brought Ragazzi into contact with Marr College. The game was an untidy affair and Ragazzi struggled to maintain a rhythm as they ran the bench throughout. The highlights of the game were provided by the strong hitting from the diminutive Kim Cruikshanks who showed how to power the ball. This and confident distribution from setter Jenn Teyhan saw the juniors home by three sets to love.

So this set of results takes Ragazzi through to the play-offs for the sixth successive year.

Well done !