A smaller group of 4 teams headed over to Warriewood for the 2015 Manly State Cup on 11/12 April.
In the honours competition we were represented by a combined Honours & Div 1 team, and in the Division competition we were represented by a mens Div1/2 team, and a junior boys team. In the womens division 1 competition we had a womens Div 1/2 team.
Mens Honours (from Morky)
In what looked like the team of the century, UTS entered an honours team into Manly cup with a combined 340 years of volleyball experience – 75% of that in Andrew Lyell and Myself! Somehow the team of 10 had shrunk to 8, then to 6 and finally to 4 by the start of the first game. Having retired from volleyball over 5 years ago to take up coaching, I found myself on the wrong side of the lines, and on the court virtually all weekend. Half way through warm-up for our first game, it became evident that no one else was showing up and I quickly roped in an amazing middle in George Jigalin, defensive specialist Alberto Flamigni, current best female player in the country in Yoshi Ueda as well as donning the black jersey myself. The beautiful hands of Douglas Skinner did the majority of the setting, all the left handed hitting and majority of net touches was left to Yujun Lai. The best finger passing this decade and some solid outside hitting was performed by Josh Moll (fresh out of juniors), and Fillipe Ramos added some south American flair and solid all round game. Andrew Lyell joined the team late on Saturday, adding more than double the volleyball experience as the rest of the team combined, and Yoshi Ueda dream of being a boy and playing men’s volleyball came true (apart from the being a boy bit). The other teams competing had virtually their full honours teams playing, meaning the competition was going to be tough for the undermanned UTS team. Boasting just two honours players in Doug Skinner (setting) and Andrew Lyell (usually libero, but playing middle, setter or opposite) the odds were stacked against us. Fillipe, Josh and Yujun were all playing their first honours games and I had to play middle for most of the weekend – something I hadn’t done since 1995 when I still had body parts that worked and I could jump about 60 cm higher. Yoshi passed well and played some great defence and also increased the attractiveness of the team ten fold. The UTS team gave everyone a run for their money and came very close to causing several upsets, but unfortunately couldn’t hold on to their lead in any of the games and finished the tournament with a respectable fourth place finish. “We knew coming into the tournament we were undermanned, but we always believed we were good enough for a top four finish” said captain Doug Skinner in his post match interview. “Anything outside of the top 4 would have been unacceptable for us and also for our fans. Top 4 was our goal and we were pleased to have been able to achieve this.”
Mens Division 1 (from Sucky)
Team: Haidang, Alberto, Pickles, Zach, Kel, Phil, Blair, Kris, Lee, Gino.
Giving some playing upwards opportunities to a few of the Div 1 team meant that our ranks were bolstered by a few of the Div 2 team. Which was good. Having a late start of the Saturday also mean a few players who were initially missing Sunday could make our first game. Also good. We started our first game against the ASIMS very positively and with some good play, took the first set. That was very good. Then we proceeded to play with a bit of complacency in the second set and ended up turning what looked like a good win, into a draw. That was bad. Our second game against Illawarra was as assistant coach Iggy put it “the team we wish we had all the time”. One guy shanks a pass upward and backwards and 5 people chase it off court. That sort of thing. That was very good. We won the game 2-nil and nearly added the third set. That was good. That was our Saturday. We then came back for an 8am game on Sunday against the Dragons. That was ok. They only had 4 players and forfeited the game. That was bad. With a couple of fill ins we made a fun game of it and got to work on a few things. That was good. Alberto did too much passing though. That was bad. This left us with 2 wins and a draw, but with one of the wins being a forfeit we were well set up to finish top of our pool. That was good. That was at 9am. Unfortunately we had to wait until 3pm for our next game. That was bad.
Our semi final was against a UNSW team that has previously won SVL so we knew we would be up against it. We played well and made it into the 20s in both sets. That was good. Blair was also not feeling well by now (and not suffering after effects from his birthday the night before) which put a dent in our offense. That was bad. Our Bronze medal game against Kaiata was a tough game with a slightly re-jigged line up. We had our moments during the game but couldn’t maintain a high enough level of play, eventually going down 2:0 and finishing fourth for the tournament. That was good.
Making the medal games among a big field was a great effort, and we had good contributions from everyone across the weekend. It was good.
Junior Boys (from Joseph)
This was the second major opportunity for the UTS Junior Boys to showcase their skill, this time in a much more demanding Division 1 Men competition. Once again we had some of our boys representing NSW at the beach volleyball nationals in Adelaide and others unavailable due to other school holiday commitments.
Day one had the team meet up at Northern Beaches Indoor Sports centre at 8:15am. This meant at least an hour travel for most players and even 5am wake-ups for some travelling from Regional NSW! The day began with a quick team meeting to establish a goal for the tournament, and to ready up the boys for what was certainly going to be an eventful tournament. Game 1 began at 9am against the USYD Yellow, this game was the first amongst a different UTS junior roster. Although there was much enthusiasm and some great hitting and defence from players Bruce Feng and Raymond Vaamaanuu, the junior boys ended up going down to the much bigger and older USYD Yellow. At the end of this first game, Mark Munter (UTS Mentor Coach) gave the boys some great feedback and tips for improving their game. Game 2 had the boys up against the BHV Colts, again an older team with a lot more experience playing in division 1. The game saw some great setting from Mathew Jigalin and exceptional passing from liberos Matt Rennie and Laymond Chu. It was clear in this game the difficulties of playing in division 1 men after the inevitable change up of the roster. Despite this, the boys were playing much better than the first game and were really beginning to play as a unit. Day 1 came to an end after duty at about 1pm.
Day 2 saw an even earlier start for the boys, this time at 7:30am! Having lost their coach and setter (George & Matt) due to Orthodox Easter, Laymond who was a libero the first day, bravely took to the setter position. Game 3 began at 8am against the Legends. This game saw exceptional service receive from players Joseph Phu and Hugh Catchpoole, resulting in some huge hits and some great setting by Laymond! Unfortunately for the boys, game 3 ended with a close loss to the Legends. Game 4 was the final game of the Manly Tournament for the boys. Going up against the Manly Bloom it was clear in this game the progress through the tournament truly had an effect on how the boys were becoming a team. Thanks to coaches Clara Loth and Alberto Flamigni, the boys rallied up for a great Placing Final. Throughout this last match, we had many huge blocks from middles Samuel Tifa and Sam Forbes, and even a complete shutout of the manly middle by player Joseph Phu! Although the boys were not as successful as their first tournament in Central Coast, it was clear that despite player changes the boys were definitely becoming more comfortable playing with each other. The division 1 experience will truly be helpful in the assembly of the Junior squad in preparation for SVL.
Special thanks go out to Coach Clara Loth for filling in the position of Main Coach. Thank you to George Jigalin and Mark Munter for their coaching on day 1 and thanks to Alberto Flamigni for helping the boys throughout day 2. Its great to see all the senior coaches helping the boys in the Junior Program, Thankyou!
Next Junior Tour …Newcastle State Cup #2!
Womens Division 1 (from Jali)
Still to come…