Sunday 11th July, Nitra, Slovakia
SVK 3 v GBR 0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-21)
Coach Harry Brokking decided to field a young Great Britain side with an average age of just 21.6 years against Slovakia today in Nitra. Peter Bakare started in his first official match and scored the highest stats on the day with 87% kills.
The Slovakians started the match well with several aces from Piovarci taking an early lead 5-1. The home team continued in the same fashion, forcing Great Britain to make several mistakes. Peter Bakare made several kills but the set was easily claimed by Slovakia 25:15.
Set two was very close with both teams trading points early on. When Peter and Dami Bakare were not killing the ball they were leaping in to the air to make huge blocks that rocked the Slovakian attack. Despite this the Slovakians were able to trade point for point and the Brits had a two point advantage at the second technical time out. Service errors from Dami Bakare and Joel Miller gave the Slovaks a 23:22 lead. Slovakia had first set point after opposite Milan Bencz killed the ball. Captain Divis finished the second set 25:23 with another kill.
The third set was very similar to the second with neither team willing to surrender. Miller and Bakare made several kills giving the Brits the lead 8:7 at the first technical time out. The young brits continued in the epic battle with Slovakia, captain Ben Pipes made several crucial blocks and one kill to stay in contention at the second technical timeout 16:15 to Slovakia. In the latter part of the set the experienced Slovaks made fewer errors than Great Britain and they took the set 25-21.
Coach Harry Brokking stated: “With the exception of the first set we played much better than yesterday. We possibly had the youngest team in the European League on court. Peter Bakare deserves a huge compliment”.
Captain Ben Pipes: “Obviously I am disappointed with the loss. We showed how far we have progressed with such a young team, the guys played fearlessly. Peter Bakare had a fantastic game today. Overall this summer we have proved that we are developing as a young team, we started out in the European League trying to win sets, now we are winning matches.”
Saturday 10th July, Nitra, Slovakia
SVK 3 v GBR 0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-21)
Harry Brokking’s men started the match slowly and soon found themselves trailing 8-4 at the first technical time out. The Slovaks made few errors and were able to pick holes in the GB defense scoring with several kills. A combination of Zatko’s huge blocks and Sopko’s ace serving was enough to finish the first set 25-15 to Slovakia.
Milan Bencz got the Slovaks off to a fantastic start in the second set with several kills and a block. GB found themselves trailing 5-1 and coach Harry Brokking was forced to take an early time out. The GB boys quickly rallied, a kill and an ace serve by Nathan French brought them back to within three points of the Slovaks at 12-9. Two further kills by Pink and Bennett and the score was13-12. Both teams rallied and once again Milan Bencz killed the ball to give the Slovakians a one point lead at the second technical time out. Several errors crept in to the GB game and the Slovaks settled the set 25-19 with further kills by Bencz and Divis.
GB got off to a flyer in the third set. Strong blocking from Nathan Bennett forced Slovakian coach Zanini to take an early time out trailing 6-3. The Slovakians dug deep and yet again Bencz and Jakubov proved to be the main scorers. Despite several kills from Pink and Haldane in the latter part of the set, the Slovaks proved that they could raise to a higher level against Harry Brokking’s men. They finished the set 25-21.
Coach Brokking said “The players seem to be lacking emotion at the moment and we got off to a very slow start. Hopefully that will change tomorrow.”
Lynne Marshall | www.volleyballphotos.co.uk