Essex Derby Delight
The final game of 2016 brought the 1st Essex derby of the season against Tendring. With both teams missing players through injury and holidays, it was certain to be a close and fiery encounter.
Tendring made a strong start and looked determined to end Blaze’s unbeaten streak. Blaze’s serve receive were struggling with the powerful Tendring serve. Luckily for Blaze, an old Tendring libero had switched alliances this season and took charge of the passing, and mid-way through the 1st set, Chester Searle was giving all options to the setters. And with this, another former Tendring player who was rarely used at the club had also switched to Blaze and that would be Cameron Rhodes. The setter that has been a stand out player for the team during the first period of the season took to the court with a point to prove, and he certainly did that. A cagey 1st set ended 22-25 to Blaze.
Blaze really took the momentum into the 2nd set and with a high quality serves resulting in many aces, stormed into an early lead where they will stay for the rest of the set. Cameron Rhodes was using all the offence available to him giving the Tendring blockers no chance of being able to tell where it was going next. Then fan-favourite setter Ashley Toomey entered the game. He needed no warming into the game and the young setter quickly introduced himself by using veteran James Bernardi in the middle. And from there, Blaze cruised to a 2nd set victory with the score 18-25.
The 3rd set gave Ashley Toomey an opportunity to start the set and continue the fine form he shown in the 2nd. Tendring tried to rally the troops and give their home support something to celebrate to no avail. With Blaze taking control of the 3rd set after the technical time-out. With some big swings from Kieran Good and Tobias French from either side. And with a final kill block from James Bernardi finishes the set 19-25 and the game 0-3. This win take Blaze to the top of the table and their unbeaten record still intact!
A great overall game from both sides really showed the quality of volleyball we have in the county and we are all looking forward to the reverse fixture in the New Year.
We would also like to thank everyone for your support over the first part of the season and we look forward to seeing how far this Blaze team can go.
MVP – Mahlon King