|Blaze Finish off the Season with a Win|
|Published: 11 Apr 2012|
On the 11th April 2012, QUB men’s volleyball team travelled down from the “Big Smoke” to the little town of Ballymoney for their last game of the season.
After a strong warm up from both sides, the whistle was blown to start the match. The home favourites won the first point with Richard Surgenor punishing an overpass into the floor. Points were then traded pretty evenly throughout the opener with patchy play from both sides, until the business end of the set where numerous errors by Blaze and powerful hitting from BFG Patrick Crooks allowed the Students to take the lead 25-22.
In the second set, the team positioned second in the table looked like they were missing both leadership and experience from absentees Jeff Scott and Captain David Park. The losing home team still remained nonchalant around the court, and complacency saw Queen’s dominate thanks to good middle work from John Robb and Chris Irwin. They took the set 25-16.
The third set saw the Ballymoney side pick up their game, perhaps thanks to a few harsh words at the change of sides from young middle Stephen White. Vintage Blaze hitting from Jonathan Workman and Adam Hunter, as well as effective runs of float serves kept up the pressure on the Queen’s defence, taking their threatening middles out of action. Blaze won their first set of the match 25-15.
The fourth continued as the third finished off, with a couple of very long rallies that were made even more interesting by the ball ricocheting off the ceiling. Further confusion at the start of the set between Ballymoney’s hitters meant that QUB took an early lead. Blaze fought back hard, determined not to lose their last match of the season. Queen’s libero Richie Martin and wing spiker Han Lu kept the passes coming, making it difficult for the home side to regain the lead, so the Ballymoney boys played smart, and bullied the weaker passers with a barrage of serves to finish 25-18.
In this match that would go all the way, Queen’s won the toss and chose to receive. Their strategy however backfired, and Ballymoney again tore apart the QUB defence with relentless serving, so the home team went 8-3 up at the switch over. Queens fought back again, with setter Andy Martin orchestrating the offence well, letting Queen’s close the gap. Nevertheless, the uphill struggle ahead of the University team proved too much of a task, and Ballymoney came out 15-12 winners in the end.
MVPs for the Match were outside hitters Jonathan Workman from Ballymoney, and Han Lu from Queen’s Uni. Belfast. Thanks go to the faithful Ballymoney fans for all of their support throughout the season, and referees Jonny McClenaghan and Kerry Kirkpatrick.