Clean sweep for North teams

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FOLLOWING on from last week’s impressive performances, North Lanarkshire volleyball teams were in action again at the weekend.

On Saturday both senior teams were at home for the first time; NL Ladies against NUVOC from Edinburgh and Bellshill Cardinals men against old rivals Glasgow Mets.

The first match saw NL Ladies up against NUVOC with the away team steaming into what looked like an unassailable 16-8 lead. A quick change of personnel from North introduced new signing and ex-Scottish internationalist Lindsay Coburn into the middle block along with offsetter Alison Lambie. This helped settle the ship and strong serving from captain Aileen Hall brought the scores even at 23-all. Two strong blocks from the home team finished the set 25-23.

North started the second set better although struggled to stamp their authority on the game. The score was evenly matched up to 19-19 when again North took control through strong serving from present Scottish Internationalist Caitlin McEwan finishing the set 25-21.

With the third set now being the most important for the away team, they came back strongly pushing for every point. Although down by a point of two throughout the set they pushed their noses in front at 19-17. The North coach made another tactical substitution bringing on ex NUVOC player Anna Fischer. NUVOC pushed on to 23-21 before North brought the scoreline even at 24-24. A strong serve from Caitlin McEwan put North at match point and a great defensive pickup from 17-year-old libero Michalina Ognewa was put away by Anna Fischer to complete a 3–0 scoreline.

North coach Tom Rooney was impressed by both the fight and the overall performance of the whole team who are shaping nicely for the rest of the season ahead, MVP was captain and setter Aileen Hall.

With the Cardinals playing the Mets next you could be forgiven for thinking that baseball was coming to the west of Scotland. Alas it wasn’t two of America’s sporting institutions but two of Scotland’s volleyballing institutions as Bellshill Cardinals met Glasgow Mets in week 2 of West of Scotland National division 2.

Bellshill Cardinals continued their excellent start to the season by defeating the away team four sets to one. The home team set the early tone with some tough serving to put Mets on the back foot. With setter Billy Harris dictating the play the visiting team struggled to handle the attacking options of Bellshill as they converted points into a quick 2 set lead.

Bellshill coach Iain Harvey took the opportunity to introduce young prospect Stephen Walker into the match as Mets fought to stay in the match. The change seemed to disrupt Bellshill’s rhythm and Mets took full advantage racing into an early lead in the thire set. As the Cardinals adjusted to the changes they started to claw their way back into the game with John Waters providing a stable pass that allowed David Anderson and Neil Cameron to dominate at the net. By the middle of the set Bellshill were level, knocking the stuffing out the visiting team and it was only a matter of time before the dominant Bellshill Cardinals secured the set and match 3-0.

With the match won and the remaining sets for development the quality of play dropped slightly with Bellshill taking a scrappy fourth set. Mets playing for pride and determined not to be whitewashed sensed tiredness sneaking into the experienced home team’s legs and were able win the last set as a consolation.

Captain Neil Cameron stated: “It was important to maintain our good start to the season with a win over a good Mets team. These matches are always hard fought affairs and I’m delighted not only with the result but also the attitude and performance of the team.”

MVP was setter Billy Harris.

On Sunday it was the turn of the junior ladies who played Marr II from Ayrshire in the second set of league fixtures in the under 18 league.

With Junior Scotland coach Vince Krawczyk coaching the young Marr team it was always going to be a tough encounter for North with a number of young players in their ranks.

The first set started very evenly with both good serving and errors spread evenly between the two teams. With scores sitting at 8-8 a succession of tough serving from North with Christie Lamb, Irene McAuley and then Michelle Bradley, supported by excellent defensive work from young libero Khera Ross and blocking from Shannon McAuley finished the set 25-12.

With their confidence up North ran into a lead in the second set at 14-7. Up stepped home player Irene McAuley to move the score on to 21-7 without reply. Both teams then traded points with North taking the set 25-11.

The third set was much more evenly contested with the Ayrshire team now getting into a rhythm. With the final set to 15 the game moved quickly with North being only one point in front at the change of ends 8-7. The away team continued to fight bravely but sensible attacking shots from captain Michalina Ognewa set up from Shannon Rutter allowed the home team to finish the set 15-13 and the match 3-0.

The home coach was extremely happy with the performance of the team with under 15 players Mhairi Larnder, Maryann Rutter and Erin Totman ably supporting their more experienced team mates during the game and in the friendly after where they played excellently well against much stronger and experienced opposition.

MVP was captain Michalina Ognewa.

With no games next week Bellshill play Orkney on October 20 in the first round of the Scottish Cup. In a replay of last year’s Scottish Plate final Bellshill will be hoping for a similar outcome when they beat the northern team 3-1. On the same day North ladies play Troon Team Ayrshire in the ladies Top Team’s Cup competition. Both games are at home in Brannock High School, Newarthill, first ball served around 10.30am and everyone is welcome to go along and watch. Admission is free.