VOLLEYBALL: FOUR of the Ellesmere Eels' five Merseyside League teams have been in action over the past week with mixed results.
The Men's A team lost 3-0 away to title favourites Halewood in a game that was always likely to be difficult given the quality and experience of the opponents, and the fact that the Eels were giving debuts to three new players.
The first set looked promising for the Eels as they were the better team for much of it. Unfortunately, a lapse in the Eels' play saw them go from 18-18 to 23-18 down. And although the team rallied, they were unable to save the set, losing 25-22. The 2nd set saw a disastrous run of 12 consecutive points lost, leaving the eels in an impossible position at 19-7 down. Once again the team rallied and clawed back six of the deficit before going down 25-19. In what was to be the final set, the Eels were always behind and could find no answers to Halewood, who by this time were on top of their game. The Eels limped home to a 25-15 defeat.
The A team took the opportunity to bounce back against Knutsford, winning three sets to one. The team looked in control in the opening two sets, winning 25-17 and 25-19, with Kurdish player Mohammed Makded, in his debut game, showing signs that he could become a key player for the team as the season progresses.
The third set saw the Eels make too many errors and allowed Knutsford to take the set 25-19. And in the next set, they struggled to impose their superiority. From a position of 10-2 ahead, they allowed Knutsford to quickly regain parity and, despite calling a time out at 20-20, they went further behind at 24-22. Only at set-point down did the Eels demonstrate a determination as they took the next four points to win the game 26-24.
The Men's C team, strengthened by the addition of a number of more experienced players this season, had a surprisingly comfortable 3-0 win against local rivals EPIC to set their season on a positive track. Egyptian player Magdi Taher starred.
The Ladies' A team won the Merseyside League pre-season tournament before disappointingly losing their opening league game against Liverpool 3-0. The team never recovered from a poor opening and seemed to be burdened by their defending champions tag. Liverpool made good use of their greater experience to win 25-19, 25-20, 25-15. In a below-par performance, only setters Carrie Moorcroft and Helen Maddox impressed.
The Ladies' B played Whitby in a game that ebbed and flowed as the Eels struggled to find their form against their inexperienced but technically-skilled opponents. Having lost the first two sets, the Eels comfortably took the third and looked set to dominate the remainder of the game. However, Whitby recovered their composure to fight out set four only for Eels to claim it at the death.
In the final set, the Eels pulled out an early lead that seemed to demoralise Whitby. The teams turned around with Eels 8-3 up and, from there, they cruised to a 15-4 win. Marie Foster found her game after moving from setter to middle hitter from set three, and her domination of the net was decisive.