The New Year Begins for Su Ragazzi

Saturday January 11th 2014

Su Ragazzi II (men) V City of Edinburgh II

The rematch!

Sometimes it’s simply a privilege to be part of a sporting picture!  This day was just such a time.  The young players from both teams excelled.  They put on a show of controlled and sustained excellence which was breathtaking at times.  One team lost and one team won, and that’s the nature of sport……but Scottish Volleyball benefitted from the efforts of all on this day.

The first set was squeaky tight with neither team being able to establish dominance.  In the first fixture in Edinburgh that started the season Simon Hammond the Edinburgh outside hitter was the deciding factor in the match.  His experience, know-how and net play were the difference between the two sides then.  In this encounter the Su Ragazzi block slowed Simon down, which allowed the defence time to compose an answer to the questions he posed.   But still it was tight.  The rallies went backwards and forwards until the home side finally clinched the set 26-24.

Set 2 the Edinburgh side won 30-28.  It was an epic confrontation.  Rhys Arthur the Edinburgh setter was on fire, and his link with Off-setter Conal Tennant proved to be the set-winning combination.   In the early exchanges the scoring went with side out, and the Su Boys couldn’t quite bring enough pressure to  bear in the service box.  At 17-21 down the set seemed beyond then, but they rallied, they fought, they worked their socks off to get to level….step up Conal, and the set went to Ian Brownlee’s team.

The home side regrouped, they changed their service tactic, they asked for just that little bit extra from each other, and they took set three 28-26.  This was top class volleyball being delivered by Junior Players.  Marc McLaughlin was calm and assured in the setting slot and he was given lots of options by Jordan Scott who passed 2.6!  Jordan was supported by the rest of his passing unit who all had positive figures.  Middle attackers Darren Martin and Frazer Johnson were a constant thorn in the side of the Edinburgh Team scoring both hits and blocks, while Blair Gillies consistently probed for weaknesses in the Edinburgh defence.  Libero Stuart Mackenzie was simply everywhere picking up the untidy balls and when Conor Walker finally managed to shake off the Edinburgh block and score on the outside, and through the pipe channel, all the pieces of the jigsaw were in place, and the performance was simply terrific.  

Set four the home side were rampant.   Their performance went up a notch and confidence was through the roof as they began to express more than just control of the ball.  The defence simply would not concede the floor.  The side out unit was scoring dig-set-kill 50% of the time they received the serve.  50% first phase side out kill – remarkable! The Edinburgh Boys just didn’t know what else to do.  They had already done enough to win most Division II encounters, but this one was different.  This one was special, and the Su Boys won the set and the match 25-19.

They played the fifth set of course.  Edinburgh II won it 19-17.  It was played in the best of sporting spirits, and it didn’t matter as the home side had won the match 3 – 1 and the Ragazzi players wore huge smiles for both the win and the performance .  

The match was excellently managed by the officiating team of Jen Downs and Lucy Scouller, and very much appreciated by the large crowd who had gathered to watch this terrific tussle.

So very well done to the players from both sides for creating a very special sporting encounter.

Saturday 11th January 2014

Su Ragazzi II (girls) V NUVOC

The Baby Su are flying!

First match of the day at Carluke High School saw the very inexperienced Baby Suettes, take on the very experienced Edinburgh side NUVOC.  The home side may indeed be inexperienced, but they are flying high in the women’s division II and going into this match they were undefeated in all competitions.

The Baby Suettes are a group of young players who are being carefully mentored by Su Ragazzi stalwarts Jen Downs and Claire Crowe.  The young players make mistakes and great plays in almost equal measure, and all with a smile on their face.

The  NUVOC team serve tough, they have solid outside hitters, they understand competition and invest time and energy in working at producing a performance.

The Baby Suettes don’t know a lot about volleyball, or competing, but they brought whatever knowledge they have to this encounter, and dominated the game from start to finish.  

They won the first set playing clever ‘heads up’ volleyball.  Then lost the second because of a lack of focus.  The completely dominated the third set and demonstrated some devastating plays at the net, then found themselves toiling in the fourth before they turned things around again and won the set and the match.  

The difference between the two teams was the control of the ball, the setting, the impact of the service, and the quality of the outside hitting – the home side were ‘up’ in all of these categories.

The Su Ragazzi Babies are young, they are inexperienced, they make mistakes, but they are also beginning to understand how to play this wonderful game, and today was a fine example of just that!

Well done indeed girls.