On a cold, wet and windy Tuesday 8th September at 02.30 hours, 10 tired but excited South Ayrshire VC Men set off for Edinburgh Airport en route for Malta, as part of a pre season with the Maltese Volleyball Association. Ahead of us lay matches, some down time and sunshine.
Some of the travellers had been in Cardiff for the UKSG and the decision to not compete on the Tuesday was wise as there was no sleep for these travellers for almost 40 hours. The games would commence on Wednesday through to Saturday with four games planned in total.
Wednesday saw some light training in the morning and relaxing by the roof top pool in the afternoon while others did some sight seeing.
The first match was at the Kordine sports complex and was a very hot experience and thus caused a big problem dealing with the flight of the ball which moved considerably in the warm air. The team coped however and were highly competitive but lost 4 to 0 with set scores of 21 v 25, 23 v 25, 23 v 25 and 20 v 25. A disappointing start but a lot of learning was obtained by coach and players.
A training session on Thursday morning on block defence was restricted due to a problem with the net, but we achieved some progress in this area and were ready for the next game.
The remaining fixtures were played at the Cottonera stadium, and game two saw a reversal of the previous night with a 4 to 0 win and set scores of 25 v 21, 25 v 20, 25 v 21 and 25 v 20. Again a close competitive game
Game three was a 2 to 1 win for S. Ayrshire with scores of 25 v 20, 21 v 25 and 25 v 22. An early finish on this, the last night, as we headed out with the Maltese players for a few Sherries and other light aperitifs, mixed with vodka I think, in Paceville, the clubbing area of the island. A late night but a greatly enjoyable experience and the Maltese players were extremely good fun to be with and made us most welcome.
The exuberance of the previous nights revelry compounded by tiredness, perhaps planned by the Maltese players, resulted in the final game being lost by 3 sets to 2 and scores of 25 v 19, 14 v 25, 25 v 19, 16 v 25 and 8 v 15.
Over all the games time was the enemy and with no time to compete on one more set on the Saturday, the result overall was 2 games and 8 sets each, so a draw which was not what was desired but perhaps appropriate as both teams competed well over the four days.
The trip has established some strong preparation for the upcoming season and allowed some newer players to integrate into the squad and gain some valuable match experience
I would like to thank the many people who made this trip so worthwhile for myself and, having never planned such an adventure before, made it all the more enjoyable.
The Maltese branch of the South Ayrshire VC supporters club comprising of Robert’s family but mainly of Bobby, Steph and Marcel who flew the Saltire proudly and with their help many aspects of the stay were much simplified. Branko Vlahovic president of the Malta VA, the Maltese players and lastly my merry band of players who played hard and partied well and have made me feel very young again?!
Roll on Malta 2010 for which plans are already underway.
Head Coach, SAVC Men