Championship Day

Championship Day.

Saturday March 22nd  2014, Su Ragazzi II V City of Edinburgh II with the title of Division II East Champions going to the winner……amidst the tension and the nerves, the young players from both sides served up a feast of top-class volleyball that delighted the large crowd who were on the edge of their seat for most of this titanic struggle.

Su Ragazzi settled early and won the first set 25-21 mostly through good serving and a disciplined approach to their net game.  Gordy McGillivray came into the match in the second set, and again Su Ragazzi came out on top, winning 25-22.  So far so good for the home side, with the Edinburgh Team looking shaky.

Going into the final match both teams were on the same points difference.  Both teams had dominated the East Division by playing well and tough, so in this final match Edinburgh had loads of confidence in their tank….if they could find it……..Set 3 they found it.  

Set three Su Ragazzi started like they had already won the match.  Set 3 Su Ragazzi lost their discipline on the back of a more urgent serving pattern from the visitors, who streaked ahead in the early exchanges and never looked back taking the set 25-12!  With the Edinburgh play being much more effective the crowd got involved.  The Edinburgh supporters had some great hits to cheer, while the Ragazzi fans were concerned at the sudden switch of momentum, and it was game on!

Set four saw the lead see-saw back and forward.  Marc McLaughlin steadied his setting patterns and thought he had established a good lead at 13-10 but Edinburgh came back.  Darren Martin and Frazer Johnson were working hard to seal the block on the outside, but couldn’t quite get hold of Simon Hammond and the score read 17-19 to the team from the East.  Jordan Scott had re-estabished his passing unit and was giving his setter good options, and the score still read 19-22 to the visitors.  Cameron Clark was linking well out of the back row and attacking everything, and despite all of this the score read 19-24 to Edinburgh.  Surely they had the set won……….

Standing at the base line at 20-24 down Frazer Johnson served a series of tough serves while Stuart Mackenzie made some unbelievable pick-ups and Conor Walker converted the opportunities with a number of great transition hits, and the score was tied at 24-24.  As the home team’s score crept up the crowd were going wild!  The tension in the gym was tangible.  It would have been quite understandable for the players to wilt under the pressure, but no-one did.  At 24 all and beyond both teams had opportunities to serve for the match, at 28 all Edinburgh scored a transition hit, then followed that with a terrific block out, and then they jumped about celebrating their 28-30 win.

So the Division II East Championship came down to the last set in the last match and winner takes all!

The teams matched each other in all aspects of the game, until it was 13 all.  Su Ragazzi successfully made side out to lead 14 – 13.  Connal Tennant for Edinburgh made a super hit to level at 14 all.  Su Ragazzi made side out to lead 15-14 and then served really tough.  Edinburgh set the ball to their left side, a tactic that had worked well all day, except the home team blocked the ball onto the floor.  Cue wild celebrations on one side of the net.  Cue one set of fans jumping up onto their feet and cheering their heads off.  Cue back slapping and huge grins from the players wearing red……cue huge disappointment for the players in blue.

SVA Board member Simon Coleman spoke a few words before presenting the trophy to the successful Captain.  He spoke of the quality of the match, of the high levels of skill demonstrated by the young players on both sides of the net, and how they represent a bright future for Scottish Volleyball.  Then he presented the Championship trophy to Su Ragazzi Captain Marc McLaughlin.

This was a terrific match, played in excellent spirits by all concerned, and expertly officiated by Mike McConville and Jen Downs.

Commiserations to the Edinburgh Boys and many congratulations to the new Champions – Su Ragazzi II.