Lincoln Cannons in NVL – The Story So Far!

 In National League Volleyball

So, after many seasons of debating whether to enter our men and women into the National Volleyball League the committee decided to bite the bullet and go for it this season so we entered and got accepted into Division 3 Central.

Historically, as a club we were never really short of male players but couldn’t always guarantee to have enough female players to put out a team but something happened when we took the decision to enter NVL….we were inundated with new players (a few beginners and some quite experienced player) which you could say was great timing!

During the summer months the club focused on getting prepared to kick off our NVL adventure, with the men’s first match scheduled early into the season on Saturday 19th September. This was the first round of the cup and finding out we were to play Division 1 side Coventry and Warwick Riga – a team known for their high level play, there was a mixture of emotions floating around….excited, nervous, apprehensive….. Anyway, with a good crowd of spectators the guys surprised most of us by taking the game to a fifth set and narrowly missing out by 2 points. The result didn’t really matter too much as everyone was on a high and it was such a fantastic way to start the season for the club.

The next weekend arrived, and the men travelled to Nuneaton to play their first league game of the season. The guys went into the match unaware of what to expect as Nuneaton were also new to NVL. It was a shaky start losing out on the first set 25-23; but once the guys got their game going they managed to turn it around and take the match 3-1.

The second weekend into October and it was the women’s turn to kick off their season playing the first round of cup against Peterborough Harriers, a team that they had faced a few seasons previous at tournaments, but never quite had the strength to overcome. From start to finish, the game was extremely close and Harriers took the first set meaning our ladies had a lot to do to turn the game around….but they fought hard and brought home the 3-1 win, progressing into the 2nd round of the cup.

A couple of weeks later, the women were in action again for their first league triangular of the season. It was hard work for the ladies as they were to play two intense matches in a row with little time to re-fuel between. First up was Black Country, a team that were previously playing in Division 2 so we knew it was going to be tough game. Our ladies had a really strong start and were 2 sets up without too much trouble but a mixture of complacency, foot off the pedal and an increase in level from Black Country saw them win back a set. This was enough for our ladies to bring the level back up and ease through the fourth set 25-10 and winning the game 3-1. On a high from winning the first game, the ladies quickly took 10 minutes out to get some food, drink and prepare to warm up for the next game against Peterborough Harriers – the team they faced and beat only 2 weeks before. It was to be another extremely close game! It was a shaky start with Harriers once again taking the first set, but the tired Cannons team managed to fight through some scrappy volleyball and some controversial decisions to take the game 3-1.

With only a week to recover the women were back in action again with a home triangular, taking on experienced Telford first. With a strong warm up the ladies went into the game feeling positive. With some great attacking we were looking strong but Telford seemed to be able to pick up everything; this paid off for them and they took for first set. As the game went on, we were able to pick out the gaps and use the ball better and took the next two sets but Telford came back fighting and their experience really came into play awarding them the fourth set taking the game to a decider. The energy was with us from the start of the fifth set and carried on that way making it a comfortable 15-8 win….yet another 3-1 for Cannons Ladies! After a match break, it was time to warm up again to take on Tamworth. Previous results had indicated that this was going to be a tough game and it didn’t take long to see why. With strong blocking and attacking options, Tamworth were keeping the momentum with them. Our ladies fought hard throughout but couldn’t quite beat them to the 25 mark, and Tamworth took the game 3-0 resulting in our first defeat of the season.

The following weekend the men were back in action after a few weeks break. They were hosting their first triangular and first up were RAF Harriers. The warm up looked strong by our men and they took that strength into the game with Harriers struggling to keep up and defend the strong attacking from all areas of the court. The game continued in a similar way and Cannons took the match with a nice 3-0 win. After the break of the middle game, the guys were back on court warming up against neighbours, Nottingham Rockets. The game played out in a similar format to the previous game, however with a bit of tiredness setting in, a bit of sloppiness was coming into play especially with the pass which meant that the guys needed to work harder on the set and attack to keep Rockets at bay. That said, Cannons took the game with another comfortable 3-0 win, keeping their league unbeaten run going.

Moving forward, the men are in Sheffield this weekend taking on Sheffield Scorpions and Black Country followed by the National Shield match against Darkstar in a couple of weeks’ time. The women are back on court on Sunday 6th December playing RAF Harriers and Northampton in their next league games. Let’s keep up the hard work Cannons and continue enjoy our first NVL season!

By Donna Sutton

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