Blaze secures Division 1 volleyball for 2014-5
The Boswells Academy sports hall has been rocking lately with supporters cheering on Team Essex Blaze. Three weeks ago Blaze’s position in Division 1 looked uncertain with “must win” games building up. Since then, however, Blaze has beaten Northumbria 3-0, Lynx 3-0 and the previously unbeaten league champions Docklands 3-1. Today Blaze continued the run by beating Birmingham 3-0.
Back Row: Darren Lewis (Coach), Luke French, Jack Watson, James Bernardi, Robert Poole, Andrew Saward, Toby French
Front Row: Will Ferrier, Sam Thompson, Adam Mitchell, Tom Storkey, Dan Northfield
Blaze started the match slowly and were down 8-11 before Darren had seen enough and called a time out. Although Will then hit a clean winner from the middle, continuing poor execution helped Birmingham stretch their lead to 11-16. Supporters wondered where the team that had beaten Docklands the previous day had gone.
Reassuringly Blaze came out of the second the time out more focused and through great middle play by Dan closed the gap to 14-16 whereupon Birmingham called a time out. There followed a period of the game where both teams played well. Birmingham must be commended on holding Blaze at this point to 20-20. However, there was too much penetration at the service line and power on offence to deny Blaze. The set was won 25-23.
It was hoped that Blaze would spring into action early in the 2nd set but once again they started slowly. Birmingham took the lead at 8-9 and stayed ahead until the second technical at 15-16. After the break and in line with supporters’ expectations, Blaze then upped their game. Tom had a fabulous service run including 3 aces which helped Blaze to take the set comfortably 25-20. It is worth pointing out that Birmingham were continuing to play a tight game all the way to end of the set. Set point was their first service error of the match.
Set 3 saw Blaze on the front foot. Jack started the set and immediately made an impact tipping deep to score. Rob backed this up with excellent serving and with Tom then Jack’s help at the net took the score to 8-4. A minor “wobble” saw Birmingham close to 9-8 but “normal service” was then resumed. Perhaps the best play of the match happened at 12-8. Birmingham had the advantage and were favourite to kill the ball. However, Jack dropped low to somehow pick up the ball, Toby still deep in the back court set to 4 and Rob rose to smack the ball cleanly down the line. Text book stuff. From 16-11 Blaze eased home to win the third set 25-18. Congratulations to Toby who was voted Blaze MVP.
Blaze are now one of the in-form teams in Division 1 and can look forward to their last match against Tendring VC without the threat of relegation. Tendring were considered a little fortunate to win at Boswells 3-2. Blaze hope to take revenge in the last match of the season.