Results 26/27 March: ‘Crunch time’ for GBW & MVP for Wicks

GBW Results 26th/27th March 2011

It was all action across Europe for the GB Women this weekend with the crucial part of the domestic seasons upon us.

MVP for Lucy Wicks....in demand!

In Germany there was a fantastic win for Wicks and Michel’s Alemannia Aachen who had an outstanding 3-1 home win against 4th in the league, Smart Allianz Stuttgart. Lucy Wicks starred, receiving her 3rd MVP of the season. Lynne Beattie’s VTA Hamburg had a disappointing 3-0 loss away from home against in-form USC Munster. In the Bundesliga North, Taylor and Thom continue to push for a top 3 league finish with a good 3-1 win away from home.

After securing 1st place in the league going into the play-offs, Sandell’s Menorca had a last league away trip against 10th in the league, CV Benidorm Beaches where they had a comfortable 3-0 victory. Palmer and Healy’s Amigos were away to Hermes Volley Oostende and it was another 5 setter for the Belgian club against 4th in the league, unfortunately Amigos lost 3-2.

It is play off time in Switzerland and Maria Bertelli’s VBC Koeniz were away to Volley Franche Montagne in the first of a 3 match series for 3rd/4th place. It was a disappointing start for the team with a 3-1 loss. It was also the start of the play offs in the English Super 8′s and Malory Eagles were up against Polonia and Swiss Cottage, losing both matches .

There was a surprise defeat for Grace Carter’s TFOC in the French DEF; sitting top of the league, TFOC lost 3-1 away from home against 5th placed U.S.S.P. Albi VB. Meanwhile, Newton’s Quimper kept their hopes of promotion alive with a superb 3-0 home win against 2nd placed team Hainaut. Bragg’s Toulon continued their run of improved performances in a tough 5 set match at home, but it wasn’t enough and they lost out 3-2.  Laura Beardsmore’s TFOC were away from home against USVB Yutz Thionville in a local derby, winning 3-0.

For more details of GB players results, scores, opinions & links to more info see below. A summary of results is included at the end of this report.

Bundesliga, Germany
Alemannia Aachen’s Wicks & Michel were at home on Saturday to the current German Cup Champions and 4th place in the league, Smart Allianz Stuttgart. After being told on Thursday that their libero would not be able to play due to a virus there was some reshuffling in the line up with one of the opposite players stepping in. It was always going to be a tough game with the team still struggling with illness and injury but Aachen showed how mentally strong they can be as a unit.

Service brought Aachen the first set

In the first set it was point for point, with Aachen playing aggressive from the first serve and hustling well on defence. The home team crept ahead with strong serving towards the end of the set and won it set 25-20. In the second set Stuttgart were leading 16-11 and 21-14 but Aachen dug deep and pulled together as a team; with some impressive defense and transition play they were on a roll with some great attack play from the outside hitters to come back and take the set 26-24 to go 2-0 ahead in the match.

After the 10 minute break Stuttgart came out firing and Aachen seemed to have a small lapse of concentration and errors crept in. Stuttgart won the set convincingly 25-15.

 

Aachen celebrate

Aachen responded straight away at the beginning of the 4th and took an 8-3 lead through strong serving again. Aachen continued to be in full control of the set and won it 25-19. The game was won 3-1 in front of an amazing home crowd with Lucy Wicks receiving MVP. See statistics from the match. Aachen remain 7th in the league but could move up to 5th if they win their game in hand.

After a great win against Wiesbaden last weekend, Lynne Beattie’s VT Aurubis Hamburg travelled to Munster where they would face an in-form team seeking their fourth consecutive win. Munster is renowned for their volleyball history, you can feel it when you walk through the doors of the stadium, so it was going to be a tough one for the Hamburg team.

It was Hamburg who got off to the dream start, leading 8-2 at the first technical time-out. Strong service from Munster got them back in the set and from here it was point for point. Each team rising to the occasion and the crowd. After saving a set point, Hamburg drew level at 24-24, but Munster responded with an ace, giving them another set point, but again Hamburg fought back, drawing the scores level once again, but it was the home team who pulled through in the end with a 27-25 win in the first set. It was a similar story in the second set, very closely fought from beginning until end. But again it was the home team that closed out the set at 25-23.

Going into the 3rd set the momentum was all with the home team Munster. They were always just a couple of points in the lead, and when Hamburg drew close, Munster would pull away. Hamburg dug in deep but in the end the power of Munster proved too much and took the set and the match with a 25-21 win in the 3rd set. With this win Munster leapfrog Hamburg, who are now in 9th position in the league.

Bundesliga Nord
It was an away match against 7th place Stralsund (8 hours East!) for Taylor and Thom’s SCU Emlichheim on Saturday and a
win was vital for SCU if they were going to continue to press for a top 3 finish.

The first set got off to a positive start with some good serving and quick siding out. Jen Thom had some big kills through position 4 at crucial times to bring out the lead at both technical time outs. SCU were always in charge and finished the set 25-22. Set 2 saw a change in momentum with the SCU serve receive starting to waiver, Straslund took the first timeout 8-3 up. Jenn Taylor was then introduced into the game to try and settle the serve receive. SCU were always chasing the set after such a slow start, but the team remained positive and aggressive. Despite losing the set 25-19, SCU remained confident in matching the positive play from the first set.

Thom blocks for SCU

In set 3 the game was still evenly matched. A nervous few points in serve receive saw SCU behind again at the 2nd technical timeout, where the SCU coach gave some stern words to all players. Following the time-out, SCU snapped back into focus. Better communication and decision making from all passers allowed the middles to become more of a threat offensively and allowed the SCU setter to run a more varied offence. This brought up the 2-1 lead as SCU took the set 25-22.

Emlichheim were keen to keep the flow of the positive play going, and started the 4th set as they had left off. The pass remained stable throughout and allowed for a more consistent run in offence. SCU took the final point with a clever wipe off shot from their opposite player. This win still leaves SCU 5th in the league, however it is very close for positions 3-6 and with a game in hand and still to play a couple of teams around them, it is still possible for SCU to finish in the top 3. They play against 2nd place Prezlauerberg in their final home game of the season on Saturday.

DEF, France
A frustrating game this week for Grace Carter’s top of the table TFOC, who were playing away from home against 5th place team, U.S.S.P Albi VB. The result was TFOC’s second defeat of the season.

Carter finds something extra

The first set was tense from both teams, with the scores staying tight all the way, with TFOC finding something extra in their block at the crucial time to take the set 23-25. This is where TFOC usually build on their first set performance and kick on, however, things started to go down hill in the 2nd set, with the Albi defence proving too strong for a struggling TFOC attack. Without being able to score points it was a convincing 25-18 victory for Albi.

Despite some changes by the TFOC coach, the third set was a similar story, with TFOC struggling to find any rhythm and Albi just playing steady volleyball; similar result with Albi winning the set 25-20. So to the fourth set and TFOC again started poorly, finding themselves behind after the first technical time-out. A run of 3 aces from Grace momentarily brought them back into the game but it was not enough to stop the momentum going with Albi losing the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.

6 Ace Carter...

TFOC remain 5 points clear at the top of the league, with 4 matches left. One of which is the Battle of the Brits next weekend against Rachel Newton’s Quimper, who are desperate for points in the promotion race. Carter, with 6 aces in the match, comments…

“It was a disapointing performance this week, with the team lacking conviction in all area’s. We know we are a much better team than this and know we shall move on quickly to focus on next weekend’s big match against Quimper”.

 

There was a great result for Rachel Newton’s Quimper Volley 29 on Saturday with a 3-0 win (25-23, 25-17, 25-20) against 2nd placed team, Hainaut Volley. Rachel gives her views on the match….

Quimper had good prep, discipline and focus

“We prepared well for the game and what was really pleasing was that we started and finished the match with the same momentum and focus. The first set we were well disciplined in our block defence particularly dealing with 2 or 3 key players that had caused us problems the last time we played them. Our attack worked well, playing with good variation and they were unable to stop us.

At the start of the 2nd set, we lost the lead we had established through some silly serving errors, and then took the pressure off with our serve which allowed one of their middles to cause us problems and score too many points. We stepped our serving up again in the middle of the second set, taking their middles out of the game and then putting a good solid block defence system into play and eventually the set was a comfortable win.

In the third set, we received well and really got our own middle offence going. We kept the pressure on with some of our best serving of the season and did our jobs on the net. Everyone is very pleased with the result and looking forward to next weeekends match.”

The excellent performance means that Quimper retain their promotion hopes in the league and have great preparation going into next weekends match against Carter’s Terville.

Rachel Bragg’s Toulon were looking to build on their first win of the season last week with a home match against Volley Club Marcq Baroeul.

It was five sets of ups and down for both teams. Toulon got off to a great start serving tough on Baroeul’s passer hitters and picking on their libero who turned out to be their weakest passer. They made a lot of service errors and we took full advantage taking the 1st set 25-22. In the second, Toulon again settled in to a good rhythm and it was very close, with a lot of good rallies and but the home team siding out well. At the crucial time Baroeul made some great defence plays and transitioned into attack to take the set 24-26.

In the 3rd set, Toulon’s opposite player was injured and Bragg had to change positions to take over this role. It was Toulon’s turn to make too many service errors at the wrong times and this cost them the set 21-25. Finding themselves 1-2 behind, Toulon knew they had to respond quickly and they did so immediately leading 6-0 in the 4th. They never looked back, picking up every ball in defence and making it into an attack. Baroeul couldn’t respond and Toulon won the set comfortably 25-15 to take the momentum into the 5th set. What a close one it was, until the score hit 10 and errors from Toulon cost them the set 10-15 and the match 2-3. This loss keeps Toulon at the foot of the table. Bragg comments….

“The match itself wasnt frustrating they had a lot more playin experience than us and some good smart players. But the feeling that we could have and should have won it the frustrating part. Personally I had a good game, getting my passing arms back, hitting well and enjoyed playing in a different position.”

NF3C, France
It was a local derby away trip against ASVB Yutz Thionville for Laura Beardsmore’s TFOC on Sunday. Yutz currently sit 9th in the league, so TFOC were expecting a win but with the teams being less than 10 minutes apart an easy game was not expected!

In a close affair, TFOC won in 3 sets (21-25, 18-25, 23-25) with both teams trading points for the majority of all sets and then at the crucial time, TFOC stepped up a gear to win convincingly. The comfortable 3-0 victory moves TFOC to joint second in the league again (the team above losing this weekend… albeit to the first placed team!).

Eredivisie, Belgium
It was another tough match this weekend for Healy & Palmer’s Amigos team, up against Hermes Volley Oostende who are currently 4th in the league. In an exciting match, Amigos fell just short in a tight fifth set tie-break.

The Amigos team were slow to start and strong blocking from the Oostende side made it difficult for the away team to find the floor in the first set, losing 25-20. In the second, Amigos turned the match around, keeping the ball alive with some great defence and smart play in attack, taking the set 17-25 and levelling the match at 1-1.

Vicki Palmer attacks for Amigos

The 3rd set was again competitive but for Amigos it was a similar story to the first, with solid blocking from the home team stopping them from ever taking control. It was a 25-21 win for Oostende. A change in tactics in the 4th brought Amigos back into the match, forcing the middle offence to break the Oostende wall at the net. In a tight set, this was the small advantage needed and Amigos won 20-25 and took the match to a deciding 5th set. Amigos had the momentum but it was point for point, however a couple of execution errors saw the girls fighting the score board at 11-13 down. Despite maintaining aggression at the net, the strength of Oostende’s middle attack proved too strong, closing the match out 13-15. This loss leaves Amigos 8th in the league.

NLA Play Offs, Switzerland
After two weekends without a match, Maria Bertelli’s Volley Koeniz were back in Play Offs action on Saturday evening against Volley Franche Montagne in a best of 3 match series for 3rd/4th place in the league. VFM were the in-form team having narrowly lost out in the semi final series but Koeniz had beaten them twice in the regular league season so a close encounter was expected.

Koeniz started the match strong with generally good all round play and led the first set until after the second technical time-out. After this point some indecision and tension crept in which led to errors and let VFM back into the set and they took full advantage winning 25-21. In the second set the Koeniz team failed to ever get going and looked like a team lacking ideas and belief. The result was a comfortable 25-17 win for the home team.

After a vocal 10 minute break, Koeniz started to pile the pressure they knew they could on the home team. Strong serving and serve reception was the foundation for a solid team performance. VFM were having problems in reception and block. Koeniz took the set 21-25. The fourth set was point for point, from beginning to end with spectacular defence and many long rallies for the crowd to enjoy. At 24 and 26, Koeniz had set points but could not make the point they needed and at 26-26, a reception error and a block from the home team gave VFM the set 28-26 and the match 3-1.

The second match of the series will be next Saturday in Koeniz. Bertelli comments…

Focus....

“It was a strange performance today for our team, in the first two sets we were playing with too much emotion, dwelling on points rather than playing with our heads and focussing on the next ball. We are very disappointed today. Credit to VFM, they played well. They are a tall, strong blocking team and we will deal with that better next time. Finishing in bronze position is important to us and we know that if we focus on our game and delivering it well we can beat this team, so its up to us in our home gym next week to do it.”

Superliga, Spain
After confirming last week that they will finish the regular season at top of the league, Janine Sandell’s Valeriano Alles Menorca were up against 10th placed team Benidorm, away from home in the last match of the regular season.

Menorca showed their position at top spot was deserved beating Benidorm convincingly in 3 sets (14, 20 and 9). Having finished in top position this gives Menorca an important home advantage in the quarterfinals of the play-offs next weekend where they will face Oxidoc Palma. Janine was top scorer for the Menorca team, with 12 points. See full statistics from the match.

Super 8′s Play Offs, England
It was the first weekend of the Play-Offs in Sheffield for Osborne and Brewer with Malory Eagles. The first match was vs Polonia, for the fourth time this season. Having been defeated by them on all previous meetings, the Eagles were determined to play well and beat them. With a fairly positive start it seemed to be going well. The first set went narrowly to Polonia 25-23, but Malory were optimistic and wanted to build on their 1st set performance. Unfortunately this did not happen. A very disappointing second set for the girls despite improving towards the end, losing 25-16. Malory hoped some of the momentum they gained at the end would transfer into the third set but history repeated it self once again, and Malory lost 25-20 and the match 3-0.

After the disappointment of the first match, the Eagles were hoping to regain some confidence in their second match against Swiss Cottage. The girls warmed up really well and were ready to go. They started off well and were ahead by the first time out, then things took a turn for the worst and were trailing in the latter half of the first set. But with grit and determination the girls fought back and went on to win the first set 25-23. The remainder of the game was a huge disappointment to the Malory girls, with not much really going according to plan and performance levels dropping. Malory lost the next 3 sets convincingly 14-25, 19-25, 16-25 and the match 3-1.

A very dissappointing day for the team, which leaves them bottom of the Top 4 Play Offs league table,  but there are two more weekends to go and they’re hoping to turn it around and finish the season on a high.

RESULTS SUMMARY:

Lucy Wicks & Ciara Michel - League, Germany: WON 3-1
Jo Healy & Vicky Palmer - League, Belgium: LOST 3-2
Maria Bertelli - Play Offs, Switzerland: LOST 3-1
Janine Sandell - League, Spain: WON 0-3
Lynne Beattie - League, Germany: LOST 3-0
Grace Carter - League, France: LOST 3-1
Rachel Newton - League, France: WON 3-0
Jo Morgan - Sweden: Season finished
Jenn Taylor & Jen Thom - League, Germany: WON 1-3
Nic Osborne & Tash Brewer - Super 8 Play Offs, England: LOST 3-0 & 3-1
Laura Beardsmore - League, France: WON 0-3
Rachel Bragg - League, France: LOST 3-2

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