Tendring vs. Riga 15/10/16

Report by Conor Walker

Saturday saw the Tendring Men’s First Team head on a leg-numbing journey north to face off with the recently relegated Riga, in the second round of the National Cup. Leading the team, Captain Stuart Dove, made sure the team were ready to compete against the experienced Riga side.

From the first whistle the Tendring lads asserted their dominance on court, establishing an early 8-point lead, pinning to opposition into a corner with, what looked like, no escape. Never the less, Riga picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and were on a mission to put pressure on the Tendring passing unit, led by the Libero, Jack Bruce. Jack grabbed the situation by the scruff of the neck, organising the passing unit with clinical precision. This in turn allowed the man with the beard, Owen Lamb, to have a field day, utilising the high-flying Gary House through the middle attack, to which no blocker could reach his towering hits. After this Tendring cruised, closing the set 25:12.

Set 2 showcased the brick wall that is Erik Halberg, closing down Riga’s hitters that they were ploughing into, with little or no effect, creating more opportunities for Tendring to go for their game. The wisdom and experience of Stuart Dove allowed him to efficiently hit pass Riga’s structured block, finding the sweet spots on the opponents undefended floor, creating havoc for the defensive system. A few rough patches of play by the Tendring passing unit saw the appearance of Derek Sullivan, a tactical decision made by the coach, Alex Porter, to weather the storm and see the set out, not to mention the extra blocking presence produced by the six foot six American! 25:16 Tendring.

Set 3, the hardest set to win in Volleyball, purely down to mental focus. Coach Porter gave the team the ‘Green Light’ on service, giving them the go-ahead to go full out from the service line. The response from the team was a solid serving game with the knowledge that service errors would occur due to the high calibre of service produced. Yes, mistakes were made, however the team worked hard to play better in every other aspect of their game to deal with the errors positively. James Baker, one of Tendring’s Outside Hitters, ensured that no shot from Riga would touch the floor, imparting knowledge he had gained from playing professionally in Belgium last year, to lift the team and remain on a high standard for the remainder of the set. Calm and in control, Tendring close the set 25:18.
Game. Set. Match.