Giants open with hard-won points. An entertaining if rather scrappy game fairly typical of a first of the season match, the contest developed into an exciting one with each side taking it in turn to gain supremacy, perhaps temporary, over the other to such an extent that a sixth set might well have produced a tie. As it was, above all, a genuine volleyball match, Giants proved the worthy winners.
They certainly started the stronger: 2:0, then 6:3 ahead they set out their stall early and, at 19:13, they looked home and dry. Nerves then struck and coach Anestic Kales will, no doubt be working on them during the week, but they managed to secure the two side-outs they needed to secure the set as EBC's score climbed to sixteen. The visitors were now full of confidence and took the first four rallies of the second set and, despite Anestic's pep talk in a time-out at 6:11, Giants could do little to slow the run of winners hitting their court and they could manage only a single point from their own service to the end of the set. Scores tied.
A great spell of serving by Wenhao Li set Giants up to control the following set and, from 8:1 they increased their lead, first slowly and then, Li having rotated to serve again, he took them from 14:10 to 18:10. They were safe but became casual again and allowed EBC too much time and space and too many points as they closed to 19:20. No longer did they look safe but they managed to take the next decisive rally. Both sides clearly received a pep talk on changing ends and both sides responded magnificently. What a set ensued! EBC were rarely behind but they were never more than a point ahead and behind only once: at 14:13 until late in the set when Giants moved to 18:17. EBC regrouped and regained the lead, increasing it to 21:20. Giants levelled things before successive successful serves from captain Nasir Khan won the set. Scores tied again.
The tie-break began as a well contested game but, at 3:4, Giants gained the upper hand and EBC had no answer. With Marcus Clifford serving and Rochas Gauthier, Radek Szymanski and captain Stefano Valloni performing superbly at the net, the home team raced to 14:4. Then, after a couple of consolation points gained by the visitors, it was all over.
Giants will be pleased but neither side fully satisfied, I suspect, although Ashley commented, "This, our U16s team, is competing in the London League this season. The same U15s team that competed last year, so with that experience they are keen to be much more competitive this year. We probably would not have stolen two sets this time last year."
Caius House Y C, Battersea, 14th October
Players: Giant Men 2 Starting Six: Marcus Clifford, Matthias Cuciniello, Idjiwa, Radek Szymanski, Emilio Torres, Stefano Valloni (captain). Libero: Jean-Michael, Duy Nyugen. Other players: Mark Angelo, Rochas Gauthier, Wenhao Li, Daniel Nesbitt, Coach: Anestis Kales.
EBC Greenhouse Starting six: A Alabi, Matthew Burnett, Casey Hudson. Thomas Jefferson, Nasir Khan (captain), Ted Turner, Libero: Jake Stidwell, Other players: Josiah Prempeh, Visman Thivaharan. Coach: Ashley Trodden.