GB Men Tango With The Torreadors of the Taraflex, Europrean League Volleyball in Salamaca

Mark McGivernIn the first match of the day Spain women, coached by Gido Vermeulen, who visited GB base camp in Sheffield last year with the Dutch men’s Development group, went down 3-2 to their visitors from Turkey, even El Toro the Spanish Bull mascot who your reporter mistook for a chicken in Valladolid last time Great Britain men visited Spain, could not save them, maybe the crowd were saving themselves for the second game which got underway at 8.30 pm when GB men took to the floor in Salamanca to challenge an interesting Spanish team.

The Spanish men coached by world renowned Julio Velasco, started confident that their two libero system, ostensibly having a passing specialist as well as a defensive specialist would pay dividends. GB lead 8-6 at the first TTO, started well with Kieran O’Malley setting the offence. GB were without Jason Haldane, and started with Dami Bakare opposite, and Andy Benson and Nathan Bennett as the centre’s. Sergio Noda who plays for Santa Croce in Italy was a powerful adversary and was much of the reason Spain took the opening set 25-15.

Mark McGivern started explosively in the second set, allied with powerful spiking by Mark Plotyczer and Andy Pink serving notice that GB were very much here to compete. When an O’Malley short serve dropped into the Spanish court giving GB a 21-14 lead, Dami Bakare introduced himself to Daniel Rocamora in the form of two towering blocks. The ensuing set point was converted emphatically by an Andy Pink wipe off, and GB leveled the match by taking the set 18-25.

The diminutive Ruiz at only 178 cms was showing how a small guy with a huge spring can be effective, until Bakare stepped in again to snuff out the danger. Spain were now finding some success through the middle and took a 19-17 lead. Ben Pipes came into the action and fed Mark McGivern who buried two great middle attacks deep into the Spanish floor. A super pipe attack from Plotyczer had the Spaniards reeling as GB trailed by one point at 22-23, Two GB serving errors allowed Spain to clinch the set 23-25.

GB Men in SalamancaThe 4th set produced some spectacular volleyball from both teams, if GB can reproduce this form when they tackle Romania next Saturday 19th June at the K2 Arena in Crawley at 1500 hrs then home Volleyball fans will see a level of Volleyball rarely reached by home nation players at any time in the past, it was neck and neck, nip and tuck as they say in some parts. Pipes came back on to blast a powerful serve deep into the Spanish court the fed a quick shoot ball which Samba (Plotyczer) smacked into the bowels of the opposition defence, which tied the set at 20 -20. Digger Dan the GB Libero man had been feeding a stream of crisp passes and defence which had the GB setters purring with delight as they were able to choose their attack patterns with confidence A service error quickly followed by the Austrian referee unbelievably over-ruling a sharp base line call in Spain’s favour who now led 22-20. Again Pipes and Samba combined well when the latter rose majestically to blast the mikasa into the floor to signal that the GB boys had the composure to fight back. The GB serve had not troubled the Spanish service quite enough and twice , accurate passing and setting had split the GB block. In quick succession El Pinko was left with two one-on-one blocks with Rocamora, the tallest Spanish hitter. Twice Pink kept GB in the match by shutting him down with towering blocks. Pink then followed this with a great hit through position 4 and GB had set point 25-25 to level the match at 2 sets all. Dami Bakare who had some truly huge plays throughout the match had a chance to clinch the set but blasted one down the line which was just out. Noda then stepped up to hit one off Pipes who was stretching every sinew to shut him out. Noda then served out the match by smacking an almost impassable serve off Nathan French who had been brought on to steady the GB passing unit. Coach.

The GB team have come so far in the last couple of years that Coach Harry Brokking was upset that his own teams mistakes had led to the defeat, he said “it was no longer good enough to simply compete well, our players have to learn to play the big points and take the sets when they put themselves in a winning position, we made our own mistakes and we will be looking to rectify these tomorrow.

Captain Ben Pipes could not hide his disappointment “devastated to lose in this way, after beating Slovakia last week, we really wanted to step up a gear, tomorrow we will be back.

The 2nd of the weekend’s games from Salamanca can be followed live on internet TV at at 20.30 CET and the live score can be found on

Kenny Barton

Photos © Lynne Marshall |