It was a whitewash for Jersey as the Guernsey volleyball squads suffered a 4-0 defeat at Fort Regent at the weekend. With the home advantage and court familiarisation on their side, Jersey dominated at this years inter insular. It was an early start for the Guernsey squads who arrived at the airport for 6:30am to travel across to the other island but all were in high spirits leading up to the all important inter island competition.
The first match of the day was the Ladies B and it was arguably the highest contested match of the day. With the benefit of training with the Ladies A team, Guernsey’s B were ready for their Jersey components. Much of the match was point-for-point but Jersey managed to steal the first set 14-25. Without letting that get to the Guernsey side and with substitutions seeing Linda Strobe and Jen Morris come on court, they pulled it back in the second winning the set 26-24. Inside hitter, Frankie Hagger, had a fantastic performance with great frontcourt cover, strong blocking and spiking. The third set saw Guernsey take the lead as Captain and setter, Becky Gauvain, worked well in front court allowing the other team members to make solid attacking shots. Guernsey took the lead after the third set and hope was evident in the Guernsey crowd who were cheering on their fellow volleyball players. Unfortunately the winning streak did not last as Jersey brought it back in the fourth set, disallowing Guernsey to take the win and forcing the match into a tiring fifth set. In the fifth, it was clear that heads had dropped but the team were determined to take it to the end. After a gruelling 2 hours and 3 minute match, Jersey won with a 9-15 defeat over the Guernsey side in the final set. ‘Becky Gauvain gave a masterclass in setting during this five set thriller. Debutant Sasha Kazantseva also wanted a piece of the action, which saw the best rallying our B team has seen in some time.’ said player-coach, Carla Marley. ‘Gauvain and Kazantseva's efforts did not go unnoticed and both secured places in the squad heading for Gotland in less than 90 days time.’
Next it was the Men’s B teams to take the court. It was evident that Jersey had a strong side out with familiar Island Games faces gracing their side of the court. With a loss to the Jersey team in the first set 14-25, Guernsey were keen to take the match to four sets and take the prize. With a thumb injury, setter Nick Gaudion played for the B team this year and aided his frontcourt hitters with fantastic sets from the outset. Guernsey were up 16-11 in the second set and with a tactical time-out called by Jersey, the pressure was on. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Jersey team came back on court with a vengeance and managed to pinch the second set 23-25. Confidence was knocked for the Guernsey side as they entered a potentially deciding set. Unfortunately the Greens could not pull it back and lost the third set and therefore the game. ‘The Men’s B team put up valiant effort against what was an unprecedentedly strong Jersey side. With a lot of the new players gaining valuable experience.' said Men’s B stand in coach, Sam Loveridge.
In last years inter insular competition, the Ladies A team were the only Guernsey team to win and did so in three straight sets. With a strong Jersey side out, it was evident from the offset that Guernsey would have their work cut out for them. Strong overarm, jump serves caught the team off guard and the team struggled to settle into a rhythm. The first set finished a disappointing 15-25 to Jersey. The second and third set saw much of the same with Jersey’s MVP aiding her team in gaining valuable points through her service. During the match there were also 2 yellow cards from the umpire. The first was for the Guernsey side, a time-delay as they did not hear the umpires’s whistle to go back on court after a time out. The second was for the Jersey side, also for a time-delay fault. The final score was 3-0 to Jersey. ‘It was a shame as I felt the team at Tri-Fitness have really helped our overall physical fitness’ says Ladies A team member, Tyler Thorne, ‘it was our volleyball and tactics that let us down on the day. Jersey have a strong side with excellent servers and we need to work on our basic skills first in order to compete with that.’ Playing-coach and Captain of the Ladies A team agreed, adding ‘It's fair to say our performance was lackluster!’ says playing coach Carla Marley. ‘Our service reception was poor and when we finally got the ball to our setters we struggled to find the court. We know what we have to work on over the next 12 weeks and the South West Championships in 6 weeks time will be the next big test ahead of Gotland’.
The final match of the day was the Men’s A game. The pressure was on as they were the final team who could bring home a trophy. The level of volleyball was another level during the men’s match. Fantastic rallies and pickups were regular throughout the match and the sets were point for point. The first set ended with Guernsey winning 25-22. This gave the green side the confidence moving forward. Inside hitter Dan Skipper made the trip to Jersey from the UK where he is studying at university. Despite having not played with his teammates for a while, the Guernsey side gelled instantly and worked well on court. Despite this, Jersey managaed to pull back in the second set evening the score to 1 all. Guernsey setter Lev Kayacan aided his team with accurate work during the match. The third set ended 23-25 meaning the Guernsey side had to win the next 2 sets to win. Guernsey took the lead 11-9 in the forth set and hope was brewing that they could make an excellent comeback. Unfortunately, the final point was played in Jersey’s favour, the final score being 3 sets to 1. 'The Men’s A teams played some of the best volleyball I have seen and took Jersey to the wire in every set but couldn't clinch the victory. The future is bright for the A team players.' Sam Loveridge says.
It was not all doom and gloom for the day as Guernsey’s Ladies B captain, Becky Gauvain, was awarded Most Valuable Player in her match. MVP awards are decided between the UK first referees and the allocated Jersey player who acts as second referee during the games. Edgars Zalcmanis was also awarded Most Valuable Player in the Men’s A match after some excellent pick up and powerful spiking from the outside saw his team gain valuable points. 'All in all a disappointing day but valuable lessons learned to take forward to island games and future inter insulars.' Said Loveridge.
As a relatively underfunded sport on the island, the GVA committee spent time asking companies across the island for sponsorship. The Guernsey volleyball teams were kindly sponsored by the Aztec Group, with a number of the players working locally for the company. This contribution was put toward supporting the island teams in the lead up to the inter insular and they received brand new playing kit. The kit was organised and supplied by the Aztec Group, the Guernsey Volleyball committee and the team at Fletcher Sports. Aztec Group’s sponsorship will also go towards funding and development of the Guernsey volleyball island squads in the lead up to the Island Games in June.