The third Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix was held at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering on 11th December 2011. Lincoln Imps previously gained promotion into Tier 1 for the first time while the Volleyball England Youth Forum were participating in their first official competition. Eagles and Gators were the only team going into the Grand Prix unbeaten. Rob Richardson (Great Britain and Eagles and Gators Captain) enthused “We are unbeaten so far this season, and we hope to continue that today”.
Eagles and Gators started the Grand Prix with a comfortable 2-0 win against Simpsons, while London Lynx beat Battleback to 10 and 13. Lynx carried their positive momentum into their second game against Lincoln Imps, again winning 2-0. Eagles and Gators contested a tough first set against Battleback, but saw off the determined side in the first set with a 25-20 win. Battleback were unable to maintain their form, and lost the second set to 11.
Lincoln Imps beat Simpsons 2-1 after losing the first set to 16, a great turn around for those involved. Eagles and Gators had a comfortable victory against Lincoln Imps, winning the first set to 9 but being pushed a little closer in the second 25-19. In one of the most exciting matches of the day, East London Lynx became the first team to beat Eagles and Gators in the 2011 Grand prix Series. The match was closely fought throughout, with East London Lynx coming out on top 25-23 25-21.
They followed that victory with another against Simpsons and in doing so, registered their first unbeaten weekend of the series. The final game of the day was between Lincoln Imps and Battleback. In a pulsating match, Lincoln beat Battleback 2-0, winning both sets to 23. On another day, the scores could easily have been reversed. The win ensuring Lincoln Imps remained in Tier 1. East London Lynx finished in first place for the first time in this years Grand Prix series and edged closer to a place in the Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix Final at the National Volleyball Centre in April. In Tier 2, the Volleyball England Youth Forum made a great start to their first Grand Prix, winning hard a fought match against Kent Wyvern to and 20 and 22. Ilona Berry, Volleyball England Youth Forum lead member of staff commented: “I’m so proud of the Youth Forum. Being here today is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn more about sitting volleyball and take it back into their communities.”
In the second match, Portsmouth played Essex Pirates. A good game ended with the Pirates as victors who then went on to claim victory in a tough match against Lougborough Lions, which saw the teams battling through 3 sets with the decider being won 15-10. Portsmouth’s next match was against Kent Wyvern, ending with Portsmouth’s first victory and Kent Wyvern’s second consecutive defeat (25-6 and 25-12). Essex Pirates continued their winning streak as they also beat Kent Wyvern 2-0. The Volleyball England Youth Forum were up against Portsmouth in their next match. They managed to take the lead against a Portsmouth team who were confident after their first vitory, however they couldn’t quite see it through to a set victory as they lost the first set to 23 and the second to 14.
The VE Youth Forum lost their next match in against a Loughborough Lions team who were on a high after beating Kent Wyvern 2-0. They also lost their final game against Essex Pirates, however performed admirably throughout cosniderign this was their first official competition. Hannah Carey, part of the National Volleyball Academy and a part of the Volleyball England Youth Forum “I did not realise how difficult it was compared to standing. It was really good and I think we need to promote it more and encourage younger people to play in the Grand Prix.” The final encounter of the day was between Lougborough Lions and Portsmouth, with the Lions beating Portsmouth and, in doing so, finishing in their highest position in the Grand Prix series so far.
Essex Pirates were the form side in Tier 2, winning all their matches and claiming promotion into Tier 1 for the next Grand Prix. MVP’s were Alex Menya (Battleback) for Tier 1 and Guus Van Den Elzen (Loughborough Lions) for Tier 2.
Article by Bethany Capps, Emma Hanger and Sofia Ghelli