Saturday 4th March saw the start of the play-off series of matches. First up at Coatbridge High School were the boys from the Su II team, playing fierce rivals Lenzie, who were the only side to defeat the Su II Boys in the regular season. With Ally Galloway and Darren Martin officiating the game started bang on time at 10.00, except the home side didn’t hear the first whistle, didn’t recognise the game had started, didn’t get out of the blocks to a flyer or anything like that, but Lenzie did……….They stamped their authority all over the early exchanges, and made sure that the game was styled to their liking.

That’s the thing about the play-off series, you have to make sure you play your game, that you don’t let the opposition set the tone, that you do exactly what you do in practice, and round about 13 each in the first set the home side Boys finally understood this aspect of the day’s endeavour. At 13 each we started to tune in better, to make the shots we were supposed to, to hit the ball with power and tactics, and we steadily moved away for the visitors to capture the first set 25-19.

The second set was better. The home side played steady volleyball, and with the return of Team Captain Gordie McGilivrey in the power hitting slot we ‘upped’ the firepower considerably. We put points on the board through some great transition plays, backed it up with some solid blocking, did a very good job from the service box, and won the set 25-17.

Then came the third set jitters. When you are two sets to zero up the third set wins you the match, so it becomes the critical set, and the hardest to win, and so it proved in this encounter. The Su II Boys didn’t help themselves any, making 5 service errors isn’t clever, but at 16 each the tie was there for either team to take, unfortunately for us it was Lenzie who powered forwards to win it 23-25.

We regrouped, we refocused, we worked harder and served much better and never looked back from the 6-0 lead we established with the first exchanges. We won the set 25-16, and with it the match 3-1. We deserved it, we played well in lots of patches, but we could have been better, and we need to be better when we face the next play-off match V NUVOC…….bring it on.

The missing setter.
Second match of the day saw the City of Glasgow Ragazzi team take on Bon Accord from Aberdeen. They were missing their setter! Don’t know where he was or what happened to him, but when Grant McIntyre blew his whistle for the game to begin there was no sign of their setter. That should have made it harder for them, should have knocked them off balance, should have put a ‘spanner in their works’ but of course it didn’t. We were hesitant they had nothing to lose, so they went for it and quickly found themselves 8-2 up. That wasn’t the script we had hoped for, but we chunttered away at closing the gap and when Darrin Martin went back to serve the score was 14-16. 11 serves later we had marched past BA to take the set 25-16. They were missing their setter after all.

Set 2 we were always in front, and at 22-8 we were pretty dominant. They passed OK, they defended really well, they were intent on hitting smart, but at Premier Division Level you need a setter who can control the ball, and their stand-in was full of intent, was as keen as mustard, worked his butt off, but all his experience was as a hitter…..we won the set to 12.

The pattern was being repeated at the start of the third set where we were quickly in the lead with the score line reading 10-3. There was much to admire in the play of the boys for the North East. They stuck to their task and supported each other, but their setter was missing! We won the set 25-17 and with it the match. The encounter was easier than had been anticipated, could it be that they were missing someone?

The Su II girls triangular.
Third match of the day saw the Su II Girls travel to Edinburgh to play hosts NUVOC II and run-away leaders of the Ladies Division I Caledonia West.

This has been a very good season for our girls, they have played well and made progress, but are not quite ready to challenge at the top of the division yet. First up in their triangular they played the hosts NUVOC II. In a very tight game our girls went down 3 sets to 1, but it was very tight as the set scores show 23-25, 25-23, 24-26, 20-25. We had chances to win, we had the desire, we are building experience, so it’s all good from a development perspective, but the win was so close…….

Next up we played Caledonia West and lost 3 – 0. Jess Reid’s Team have been great this season, and have dominated the league. We hustled and worked hard but couldn’t match their fire-power going down 25-10, 25-15, 25-11.

Next week is the semi-finals dayfor the cup competitions, today was good preparation for them.