The Central Coast State Cup is the start of a very busy period for the Autumn of 2018 that sees a flurry of tournaments in various locations up until the start of Sydney Volleyball League in May 2018.
Our new State Squad took off to the Peninsula Leisure Centre in Woy Woy and the Scholastic Sports Stadium in Terrigal to compete in the Div 2 and Div 1 competitions on the first weekend in April. With Coach Marie Skelton in tow the crew were coming together for the first time with new players joining the squad including some returning blood for Freezone back into the club.
2 days of competition and some very competitive pools formed up for the 2 days of play over the weekend and both teams had the chance to come together for the first time and play ‘tournament volleyball’.
FZ White had steady start that was ever increasing over the first days play. Communication between new players is always key when it comes to playing for the first time, especially at this level, where a few missed points makes all the difference in momentum and game play. Just knowing who is precisely going to be in charge of getting that rogue ball or who is running exactly what play is the element that has to be figured out when you are new and each new set saw the boys finding their feet. 50min goes very quickly when you are finding your feet. The FZ White team rallied and Coach Marie tried numerous different combinations and rotations with everyone playing different positions to find the best fit. By the 3rd game the combinations were beginning to work and the Whites had their first ‘win’ of the day.
On the second day the boys came out firing and close sets were the result. A win over the Housecats was a great confidence booster moving into the final pool game against UNSW. Unfortunately the UNSW was marred with a loss of our Middle Hitter Dion Ofa. A slippery floor saw Dion hit the ground and a broken ankle was the result. Dion in true fashion was very nonchalant about it all but he was taken to hospital and then has been transferred to Concord in preparation for surgery on Thursday. We wish him a speedy recovery.
FZ Blue were the success story of the weekend. Their campaign was a star studded performance on paper, not dropping a set in their pool games and leading to the top of the pool. They had some stiff competition in some matches but managed to hold their nerve and their skill as they blitzed the competition. There were some tight games that allowed them to figure out how best to rely on each other and find that competitive drive and aggression that is advantageous to the game. Finishing their final game on the first day they were full of confidence but aware that they would have to win their semi to have the easiest path to the finals.
The second day saw the boys come out fighting in their semi final and take a solid lead which they consolidated to move straight into the gold medal match later in the afternoon. The final against UNSW was going to be a thriller and it didn’t disappoint. The cheer squads were out and the calibre of volleyball on both sides of the court had some impressive depth. The first set was tight after a shaky start from our boys which saw them 6 points down, but after fighting back to an even points at 15 all, FZ Blue got a good lead late in the set due to some great serving from Charlie Pahina and Stuart Mackay and solid attacking from Felix Eistrup and JM Montellano to take the set convincingly.
The 2nd set was a tougher gig and once again a few service errors and solid attacking from the other side of the net saw the Blues drop to a 7 point deficit. A big fight to come back, but they did manage to peg back the lead to a few points but were ultimately unable to overcome some very impressive middle hitting from UNSW. The stage was set for an ultimate 3rd set and both camps were ‘geed’ up and ready to go. It was literally point for point for much of the set with FZ reaching a 8-7 lead to change ends with the lead. UNSW came out hard and then looked set to get away with the win with more solid Middle hitting and a 14-10 lead. It was all or nothing and Coach Marie was constantly coaxing the lads to ‘not be timid’ and bring out all the stops. FZ Blue set up good defence and the refusal to let the ball drop saw them win the next 4 points to bring it to a 14-14 tie.
It was hot, it was tight and it was a very loud gym! UNSW were sending everything to their Outside hitter but the blocking from Blue was efficient enough to slow the play down and keep the points going. A deep set to the outside that flew into the net from the hitter brought the Blues victory 16-14 in the third. The team were elated and ecstatic and the victory high was a great start to the season for the blues. We are super proud of their achievement and hope they can take this feeling into the season all the way through to Newcastle.
The next tournament will be the Manly Cup in late April. Both teams will again line up and be ready and more cohesive having played this first tournament together. Coach Marie will no doubt be formulating some impressive training for the boys leading up the next tournament and we look forward to the next chance to prove ourselves.