Team Essex Blaze kicked of their league campaign against Coventry and Warwick Riga. A team that last season beat Blaze 3-2 on both occasions they met. This coupled with a disappointing early exit from the cup two weeks prior meant that Essex were taking nothing for granted and expected a very tough match.
Essex started the game strongly, with the passing unit working effectively allowing young setter Matt Ketley to run the offence. With Warwick’s middles having to commit block on James Bernardi and Ian Bailey the wing hitters were often left with one man blocks allowing them to attack with great efficiency. With some good defensive pickups and the only real weakness and source of Warwick’s point being service errors Team Essex built a commanding lead by the first technical time out. Essex maintained their focus and with vocal support from bench and coaches extended their lead to comfortably win the first set 25-12.
The Second set started where the first set left off. With Dan Sach replacing Ketley in the setting position the distribution of ball and offence remained strong and Essex quickly built up a substantial lead. Around half way through the set Zak Chambers replaced Andy Saward through four. Warwick then upped their service pressure targeting Chambers and managed to get on a small run of points. The passing unit then managed to get on top of Warwick’s serve and were siding out consistently with some great offence from Kieran Good in particular. Essex then ran away with the set to win it 25-17.
The third set saw Chris Frost back from playing in France for a few years replacing Mahlon King, who had a very solid passing performance throughout the first two sets. Team Essex again built a lead early on with some great blocking led by Bernardi and Russell. Chambers extended the lead further by going on a long service run hitting multiple aces. Ben Laing replaced Russell for his Team Essex debut and brought bringing great energy to the team and put in a solid performance. Essex secured the 3-0 win with a set score of 25-14.
This was a strong team performance for Blaze as they played with great maturity despite being a relatively young team. The performance was clinical, with very few bad errors and everyone contributing positively. The team is now looking forward to their next match against Solent who have come down from the super 8s and also managed to secure a win in their first game of the season.
Coach BK quoted “I was both excited and anxious before Blaze’s first league match but the guys made it a very enjoyable experience. The whole squad showed good confidence, team work and most importantly good volleyball. We will go one game, one point at a time but today was was a very important first step and the team executed well.”