Its Silver in Riga for the GB Men
The GB Men’s Sitting Volleyball team have returned from Latvia following a successful weekend at the Riga Cup.
It was a superb opening day to the competition with the team recording 3 victories and not dropping a set. Lithuania were the first opponents with set scores of 25-13, 25-16 and 25-22.
Next up were Estonia and scores of 25-10, 25-16 and 25-18 saw the team to another straight sets win. The game was especially significant for Danny Jarvis who made his international debut.
The final game of the day saw GB beat Latvia 2 3-0 with scores of 25-18, 25-14 and 25-20. It also saw another debut with Johnny Parker coming on for his first appearance in a Great Britain Shirt. The results meant GB finished the day in joint first place in the table. The matches gave the team a chance to develop as a unit with Captain Rob Richardson showing strong leadership whilst being supported by other senior players.
Day 2 started with the toughest game of the weekend against a very strong Moscow side. The standard of play was the highest of the weekend and both teams had chances in each set. The Russians took the opening 2 sets – 25-22 and 25-23. The 3rd set was even closer but again Moscow edged it 25-23.
The final match of the competition saw GB take on Latvia 1 with the hosts taking the opening set 25-17. GB were also behind in the second set but dug deep with Charlie Walker and Justin Phillips both dominating at the net and after levelling up at 1 set each, GB took the 3rd set 26-24. The team was able to establish control in the 4th set, winning 25-15 and securing the match 3-1. One unexpected moment of the match saw Justin Phillips unintentionally knock the Latvian coach off his wheelchair after he was on the receiving end of a powerful spike! This became one of the highlights of the day on Latvian National Sport Channel and has already had over 500 views on YouTube.
The result saw GB finish as silver medalists. Charlie Walker also received an award as the Best setter for the competition despite playing as a middle.
Coach Branislav Kovac was delighted with how the competition went.“This wasn’t just my first competition with GB Men, for the squad it was also the first competition in 18 months. For all of us this was a great opportunity to find who we are as a group and where we stand. Playing competitive matches is something completely different to scrimmaging. It’s do or die and things happen very quickly. The guys made my hopes come true – they sustained a high level of focus despite a tough schedule and performed to the level I wanted.
All the players were very stable and played very well despite the tough schedule, but I was particularly impressed with Justin Phillips – he really showed his true potential this weekend and in my opinion was the player of the tournament.
The captain Rob Richardson, was also pleased with how the competition went, „it was an extremely positive weekend, a platform to build upon for upcoming matches against Canada and the invitational tournament in July“.
Alla Main, British Volleyball Federation President, praised the teams performance. “On behalf of the BVF, warm congratulations to the GB Sitting Men’s squad and the new coach Branislav Kovac on the very encouraging result – a second place at the international event in Riga, well done!”
The squad are supported by Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It, a charity partnership that was announced last year. Additional support to sitting volleyball is provided by Unum Insurance.