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Men lose tight encounter

Simon Shipwright  Thursday, December 13, 2001  11:45 GMT

ANVC 2 Higham Ferrers 3 (25-14 21-25 20-25 25-23 11-15)

Team - Blobs, Grenv, Layne, Pete, Simon, Stuart H, Stuart R

Grenville second ref'd for the first set. The rotation was such that Layne & Stuart H were in the front court at the same time and with Higham having a centre setter, this proved very successful in restricting their hitters whilst they were at the front, but did mean that suddenly we lacked height at the net when they were both in back court. This was reflected in the scoring as for a while we would have the upper hand, hitting and blocking wise, then they would. When we had the upper hand we were making more points than them, by good digging in the back court from Stuart R and myself, which allowed Pete and Blobby to provide good sets for both Layne and Stuart H to dispatch. Although it was hard work we managed to continually build on our lead until we ran out 25-14 winners.

Second set and it was my turn to second ref. Again a hard fought set with lots of good periods of play, although our serves sometime let us down. Towards the end their middle hitter won a few points dumping in to a gap behind our blocks and this proved to be the winning margin as we lost that 21-25.

Stuart H to second ref this time. Pete had decided to do the majority of setting now and was running around like a blue arsed fly. Stuart R was finding gaps in their blocks and we were recycling well. It was still nip and tuck and anyone could win but Abbey had a few points go against them and the confidence in making attacking plays dipped a little, and we started
just tipping it over allowing them to make easy attacks, this proved our downfall as it undid all the good work we had done previously and lost us the set 20-25.

Set four and back to the first rotation. Again every point had to be fought for tooth and nail, but a good set of serves from Stuart R gave us a slight lead which we hung on to, with a combination of good play, blind panic and a little bit of luck. The last of those three, seemed to upset Higham who took to shouting at each other and occasionally the ref. We won that set 25–23 to set up a fifth set decider, oh goodie.

With Higham being rattled and uptight we really had a chance to win our first fifth set decider, however Higham turned their frustration in to aggression and determination and easily won the first few points. Abbey rallied to pull back a couple of points to make it 2-4, but whether
the fact all their team were at least 1/2 my age and a 1/3 of Grenville's, made them look keener to win, or whether we just run out of steam, is hard to tell, but we swapped ends at 8-4. Abbey dug deep and competed equally as well as Higham in the latter part of the set but the four point lead they had, never disappeared and they won the set 11-15 and the match 3-2.

Obviously the closeness of the two teams (which can be seen in the stat that Abbey & Higham both scored exactly 102 points each) made for a good, hard game but it would be nice to win a five setter one day. Well may be 2002 will be that year.

Big thanks to Bine & Anne for officiating. Also to Polly, our Britney Spears cheerleader.

MotM goes to STUART R for a good all round performance both in attack and defence.
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