The second last home round of the season, saw the Queensland Pirates travel to Sydney to take on the UTSSU Shield at Netball Central. This 12/13 November matchup was for week 7 of Australian Volleyball League 2016.
A close first set saw UTSSU make 3 service errors in a row heading into the 20’s. The young UTSSU team rallied to draw level at 23 all, only to be denied any further points by the experienced Queenslanders. A slow start and some strong hitting from Shane Alexander, saw the Pirates take the second comfortably 25-15. The third again saw a slow start by the home team, down 8-3 at the first technical. The boys managed to regroup and claw their way back to 12 all, but ultimately made too many unforced errors and lacked consistency, with the Pirates taking the set 25-20 and the game 3-0.
Zac shows he has the height
Coach Nam was “disappointed that once again we were able to match it with the best, but not able to take a set. The difference between our young group and the experienced Pirates is that they don’t make 2, 3 or 4 errors in a row. We have the skill, but not the consistency. Once we get that consistency, we will be a hard team to beat”.
Game 2 started very slowly for the Shield, with Will Mercer bombing down 11 unanswered jump serves, leaving UTSSU down 16:2 at the second technical. to their credit, the young team fought back from there to finish the set at 12-25 and taking some momentum into the second. The Shield came out fighting in the second matching it with the Pirates to 22 all. Unfortunately, that is where the scoring ended for the Shield. going down 22-25. The third followed a similar script with the Shield down 24-22, when a questionable hit inside the antenna call (that ball must have curved at least 2 meters! ) gave UTSSU some momentum. The Shield then leveled at 24 all before taking the set 27-25 and the game into a fourth set. The Shield got off to a slow start, but found their straps heading into the mid teens. A calf injury to Nathan Healy, and recurring ankle problems for captain Artem Ipatyev, slowed the team down and the experienced Pirates rolled over the top of the Shield 25-17, taking the game 3-1.
Nathan tries to break through the strong Pirates block
Coach Nam was pleased that his young players could at least take a set from the Pirates. “We still played inconsistently and had to continually remind our players of the game plan and how to execute their skills. When we did those thing right, we showed that we could match it with the best team in the competition. At the moment many of our players lack the discipline and the emotional buy in to get over the top of the quality teams. They are slowly beginning to understand that they need to step up their game from what they are used to at juniors and SVL – thus is a whole new level of competition”.
Next weekend sees the UTSSU Shield take on the ever improving Centre of Excellence in Sydney on Friday evening and on Saturday evening in Canberra.