Saturday 26th September saw the start of the M3SE season with Tendring taking on the Norwich Spikers at the St Albans School for Girls in St Albans. The squad met at the usual point with the coach anticipating seven players but finding himself with six.
After a necessary comfort and refuelling break the team found themselves on the way to the match.
We arrived at the standard M3SE time giving ourselves a good 10-11 minutes to warmup for the match.

With the bare six players Coach Liam Chinnery was forced to make some significant adjustments to the starting line up and the team lined up as follows:
Setter: Liam Chinnery (Captain/Coach)
Opposite: Chester Searle
Left Side: Craig Lawrie, Aaron Jones
Middle Blockers: James Chapman, Jack Nash

While players in the six had been to several training sessions, this was the first opportunity to give the whole team a run out and the first goal was to focus on finishing warming up! We anticipated making a number of errors that come from not having played together and expected to be better by the end of the match that we were at the start.
We had a good start and the passing unit of Searle, Lawrie and Jones gave Chinnery a stable ball to run his offense. Lawrie and Jones quickly asserted themselves on the left side with some very good shots and as their confidence grew, they became devastatingly effective. Nash and Chapman worked tirelessly in the middle and were able to commit blockers several times creating good 1-on-1 match ups for Jones and Lawrie and they didn’t let up. While Searle didn’t get set a lot of the time it was clear that he was growing in confidence and his ability to use the block to win points came to the fore. While he didn’t manage to have a 100% kill ratio, he made few errors and swung hard throughout the match.
While our pass-reception and offense were gathering momentum our service pressure was still quite weak. This allowed the Spikers to run their middle a lot and this was key to their success in winning the first set.
The match had many highs and few lows. We were very reliant on Lawrie and Jones to win us points with Searle, Nash and Chapman all doing their parts. We found ourselves in some tricky situations particular in P6 when the middle blockers needed to pass. Defensively the group began to gel and the system we were playing started to take shape. Our service developed throughout the match and became a very effective tool.
While the 3-1 score line told a story of a match lost, each set was within 4 points. The performance in the final set surpassed that of the first set in all six positions and in all aspects of the game leaving the group with a positive feeling about how the team will develop through the season.
Thanks to all the players involved.
Firstly, to Chester for playing out of his skin! The constant feedback to me throughout the match was great as a coach and his positivity throughout the match was infectious. He played a huge role in the passing unit helping to create a stable platform for our offense.
Secondly to James for playing hurt. The poor bloke was struggling to move having had a few tough days at work.
Next, Jack Nash. The big fella was outstanding and played his role perfectly. He was called in to do some passing throughout the game and while he did make some errors he more than made up for it from the service line and across the net. Expect to hear great things about this young man this season.
Both Craig and Aaron did a phenomenal job having not played as pass-hitters at this level for a while. They passed a very stable ball in and were brilliant killing more balls than you’d believe!
Well done on a great outing. The result didn’t go our was but the future looks bright!
Liam Chinnery