Monday, October 29, 2007

Hvidovre and Nordic Championships

The last week of training has been terrible. At any given time, we've been without at least three or four of our players due to injury and sickness. Besides that, we just haven't been that focused and the practice hasn't been very high quality. When you have a bad week of practice, it doesn't leave you with a great feeling going into the next match.

That said, we came out from the beginning of the first set against Hvidovre and played well. We were stable and passed the ball well enough to be able to do what we wanted to do on offense.

The second set was interesting in that we kind of fell apart in the middle of it and couldn't really get back on track. I think we missed every serve except one after we got up to around 15 points so that didn't really help us. Add to that a bunch of balls hit out of bounds and players playing out of position and you have a recipe for losing games.

The third and fourth sets were pretty uneventful. Hvidovre seemed determined to let Shaun hit as much as possible against a one or no man block so we just kept giving him the ball.

In the end, we got to try a whole bunch of different stuff and move players around a lot to see what they could do in somewhat awkward positions. It wasn't a complete success but it wasn't really a failure either as we came home with the win.

Otherwise, I've been trying to keep updated on the Nordic Championships for volleyball which are going to take place this weekend in Norway and Sweden. Today there is a little information out there at Falkenberg's website, Habo's website and Førde's website.

The idea is that two teams from Denmark, two teams from Sweden, two teams from Norway and one team from Iceland will be split up into two three-team pools with the winners of those pools moving on to play in a final four with two teams from Finland. The two teams from Denmark were supposed to be Middelfart and Aarhus.

I think it is a great idea. What I don't think is a great idea is that Aarhus pulled themselves out of the tournament. I can't even explain how angry this makes me. First of all, that they accepted, and second that they then pulled out. Third, I don't really know what the story is, but I would love to hear why we (Marienlyst) couldn't take their place. I honestly don't know if we had the opportunity and said no or if the DVBF decided not to ask us or what, but in any case, it is a huge disappointment to me personally.

I don't know if anyone even cares about a Nordic Championships, maybe the fans aren't interested, I know I haven't really heard anyone talking about it, but if that's the case, I think it is a shame. A tournament like this is a great opportunity to play some high level volleyball against good competition. Besides the teams from Sweden, Norway and Iceland, the teams from Finland will unquestionably be very, very good. I'm personally pretty upset about the whole thing because I think that, especially considering that we weren't allowed to play European Cup volleyball, this was a great chance to try something new and different and exciting. I don't know why Aarhus decided not to go and I don't know why we weren't offered the chance to take their place, but I would sure like to...

Now, the only Danish representative will be Middelfart, so good luck to you guys I'll be interested to hear how it all goes.

Monday, October 22, 2007


We didn't really know what to expect when we walked into the gym in Aalborg on Saturday. We haven't seen very much of them yet this year and, beyond that, their results have been hard to decipher. Fortunately for us, we broke out to an early lead and never looked back.

Or serving and transition play made the biggest difference in the match. They gave us far too many free and semi free balls that turned into easy points for us. For a short portion of the second set, they passed better and we served worse, and it was like playing against a totally different team. If they iron out their passing issues then they will be a much harder team to play against. Their middles are still very effective when they can get the ball to them.

On our side, we were able to play free and aggressive for most of the match. When we play that way, we are hard to stop because we have so many options. It's also a huge benefit for us that when we play good defense we can just set the ball high to the outside on either side and
win a high percentage of those balls as well.

Congratulations to Michael and Matthias on the incredible amount of blood contained inside their respective heads. I'm not sure how many towels it took to mop up after their collision during the second set but it was certainly more than three. I didn't see Fyens yesterday but I do hope that the headline was "Bloodbath in Aalborg".

Shaun gets this week's award for biggest violation during a rally that the referee didn't see by slapping the net with both hands on the way up to block and then, for good measure, touching the attack on its way out of bounds. Truly, an impressive piece of rule-breaking. Although, the award would have gone to Martin if he could have blocked that one ball that he tried to block while he was in the backrow.

This was just the start of our monumental streak of away games. Hvidovre next week...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Kind of a weird match on Saturday. Aarhus had requested a change to the normal start time of our matches from 15:15 to 13:00 so that they could get back to Aarhus and work during the football game that night. I don't know why, but moving the match up two hours somehow made a huge difference. 1 o'clock felt like 8am.

Anyways, that was the most interesting thing about the match. Aarhus is clearly not a complete team yet so I am going to reserve any judgment for when they figure out their full roster. When your libero is starting as a middle you usually don't have much chance to win.

The match wass never really close. I think in the third set we were even until like 14-14 or something like that but that was as tight as it got. We served better than we have all year and it created lots of problems for the Aarhus passers. Our sideout was also pretty efficient. All in all, not the most exciting game for the fans, but a good performance by us.

Otherwise, I've been cruising the blogs and have been delighted to see a little bit of controversy out there. I'm not really sure that I have an opinion on who is right or wrong, but I definitely don't have a problem with people voicing their opinions. I don't think anyone can be upset about someone writing their honest thoughts, or for that matter, reacting to those thoughts. It's not like anyone is out there threatening someone else physically. A little bit of colorful "discussion" has never hurt anyone (Especially when it is well done and entertaining).

Furthermore, not everyone has to like everyone else. Sometimes, better competition is born out of a few well-placed remarks...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend 13/10

Alright! NordicBet alive and flowing once again... Let's get right to the picks:

Marienlyst (-2.50) vs. Aarhus Volley: This one is right on the border of being dangerous. Generally, you've got to stay away from teams giving 2.5 sets right from the beginning. Winning 3-0 is never a sure thing. You also never know what Aarhus is going to come with. There are rumors of a new Belorussian playing center so who knows what kind of starting lineup they are going to throw out there. That being said, I'm taking us because, well, it's my team and I feel good about us. Odds 1.45 aren't the worst I've ever seen.

Gentofte (-1.50) vs. ASV Aarhus: Even though the odds have dropped little bit already, getting 1.55 that Gentofte won't lose more than one set is definitely worth throwing some money at. ASV is better than most people think, but they've got to play in Gentofte and I just don't see it happening for them in this one. We still don't know that much about Gentofte, except that they aren't better than a good team from Croatia and that they're not going to drop out of the elite this year. This match won't really give us more answers, but it should be another win for them.

Aalborg HIK (-2.50) vs. Hvidovre: Huh. If you believe Hvidovre, then you have to bet them in this match. If they are going to be competitive this year then they have to beat teams like HIK who are middle of the pack right now. In any case, they have to be able to win a set or two even if they are playing in Aalborg. I wouldn't touch this game with a ten foot pole, but if I have to make a choice then it would be to take the handicap and the higher odds with Hvidovre. These matches are dangerous though, home teams in this situation often play really well and end up winning decisively.

Finally, a full slate of games this weekend (even if we're missing what should be a fourth match). Exciting to see how everyone reacts to the real first weekend of the season...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Early, early, early season match that meant nearly nothing in the long run. Of course, we're glad to win, and it means something in the standings, but as far as finding out where we stand in relation to the rest of the teams in the league, this match didn't really tell us anything.

Clearly Middelfart is going to be better next time. We're also going to be better.

The only really interesting thing that happened in the match was the sudden turn around in the first set when Middelfart scored five straight points to go from 19-24 to 24-24. I don't have a whole lot of answers as to why it happened. Their serves weren't uncontrollable, the sets were fine, the hits were okay but somehow we just couldn't put a ball away. It's actually a problem that we've been dealing with. I don't know why, maybe because we're too worried about making mistakes, but we seem to lose the ability to swing freely at the ball at times. We get into a kind of safe mode and give the other team the opportunity to play defense. It's an area we'll have to get better in.

Otherwise, we played well enough to win the match in three sets. Middelfart never really threatened us after the first set. We won the next two with at least a four or five point margin. We didn't do anything spectacular, but we were solid when it mattered. They put a little bit of pressure on us with some good serving, but Shaun put away a lot of trouble balls and made it easy for us to sideout even when the passing wasn't perfect. Daniel also did a good job of hitting the ball in transition and forcing them to respect the middle at all times.

All in all, a fairly uneventful match. We'll be back in Middelfart later in the year and I expect it to be a whole different game.

Monday, October 01, 2007


There wasn't a lot of mystery left for our match against ASV on Friday. We had already played them twice in the pre-season and won decisively both times. Other than their addition of a tall Brasilian, the third time didn't really offer anything different.

Even though we won 3-0, and were never really in danger of losing, each set was a completely different experience from the last.

We started well, aggressive, making points in serve, block, defense and transition and built up an instant lead. All in all, probably our best set so far this year and ASV could not match us.

The second set, which you can see in compressed form on Flemming West's blog, left a lot to be desired from our side. (You might also notice that we are on the wrong side of the court - Usually we start on the side opposite the clock when we play at home - because ASV won the coin toss and decided to switch sides...Interesting choice...) Personally, I couldn't set the ball to Shaun to save my life, and generally let too many sets die too far inside the pins. It put the hitters in difficult situations and that's the main reason we didn't win the set with a bigger margin. I think it ended 25-22 but we had so many chances to score that it could easily have been 14 or 15.

Third set was unremarkable. We played a little better than the second set and got a few guys off the bench some playing time. The end was never really close.

I've said it before, ASV will be better than people expect, they'll upset some people at some point this year. In this match, they simply made too many errors, in serve especially, to really be able to make us uncomfortable.