VE U18 Grand Prix Round 3
Monday, 13 February 2023 15:17
Volleyball England’s U18 Girls Grand Prix Tier 2, Round 3
Teams: Wirral, Sheffield A, Sheffield B, York, Whitley Bay HS
Venue: All Saints Sports Centre, Sheffield.
Date/time: Sunday, February 19th, start 11:30. Format: five team round robin.
Team: Gina Nuttall (captain), Lois Watson, Eloise Duncalfe, Emma Carr, Issy Carr, Lily Hogan, Lily Bloomfield, Nicole Uzonwanne
Winners: Wirral - 8 Grand Prix points; runner-up Sheffield A - 6 Grand Prix points
Wirral vs York, won 2-0 26-24, 25-13; Wirral vs WBHS drew 1-1 25-15, 24-26; Wirral vs Sheffield B won 2-0, 25-17, 25-14; Wirral vs Sheffield A, 25-23, 25-19
Another very good performance from our girls who have swept all before them in this national Tier 2 competition, gaining a total of 25 Grand Prix points over the three rounds, comfortably the best return from the northern group of teams.
This round started slowly as our girls gradually warmed up against a York team that had already played one match. We were behind and struggling with unforced errors in the first set but Lily Bloomfield came on to steady the ship with some reliable serving as we fought our way back to take the set 26-24. York were playing well and covering the court wbetter than expected but were no match for our girls in set 2 going down 13-25. Our team carried the momentum through into the match against Whitley Bay with a convincing first set victory then, from a commanding position, we just fell switched off, racked up mistake after mistake and lost the set 24-26.
This format gives you no time to recuperate or rethink and we were immediately back on court against Sheffield B. Fortunately despite having some tall players ‘B’ were pretty weak, struggled to receive serve and couldn’t really put up a defence on the net or in back court - an easy victory.
Then, as the organisers had planned, our last match against Sheffield A was the ‘final’ of the competition. Sheffield A played well, served strongly, and made good use of their two best hitters. Our girls were behind 17-21 but would not be beaten, gritting out a powerful endgame to take the set 25-23 with no small thanks to Gina’s serving and Lois’s hitting and blocking. Eloise also earned lots of brownie points by repeatedly picking up Sheffield’s best spikes in back court, something the Sheffied team were unable to match. We followed our fightback in the first set with a blistering start to the second and Sheffield were broken, going down 25-19 despite a late rally. Sheffield A were strong but we had Gina and Lois.
Round 3 was the final round in the Grand Prix series, Tier 1 will be going on to last 8s and finals, we’ll have to wait and see if Volleyball England come up with anything to end the season for the Tier 2 competition.