news 13 Mar 2018

AGSV Volleyball Premiers

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ROUND 1 of a new AGSV volleyball season, the Mentone Grammar boys out for redemption. The pain of the 2017 semi-final loss still burning fiercely inside - fuelling the beast. The opponent is Marcellin, a school that has a tenacious stranglehold on many AGSV sporting competitions. Early stages, Marcellin level the game at 1-1 in the best of 5 set affair. A challenging and competitive season seemed imminent.

However, to the surprise of spectators, Mentone fought back to clench the next three consecutive sets and secure a 3-1 victory. In the next game they also won three sets on the spin against Peninsula. In fact, they would go on to immortalise their name in the history books, not only going undefeated in the regular season, but so too the finals.

An impressive feat on its own, but it doesn’t end there.

Barring round 1, they did not lose a single set.

26 sets in a row, winning every fixture 3-0.

Mentone Grammar were AGSV volleyball premiers for the third time (2010, 2016, and 2018).

The final was played against Trinity Grammar who finished in 2nd place on the ladder, the best two teams were set to go head-to-head.

After a slow start in the first set, the Mentone boys seemed to be struggling with the early start. Except for one man, Fan Mingui, who was wide awake. Minghui rose high above the net with a textbook spike, slamming the unplayable ball at pace, and so too Mentone’s authority on the game. Jai Florent staked his claim as a dual sportsman (younger brother to Oliver who is now at the Sydney Swans), with his versatile skillset on show in the game of volleyball as a well-placed serve sparked a run for Mentone (5-6 to Trinity). Despite this, it was Trinity who would wrestle back the momentum, taking a 12-5 lead in the first to 25 set. But the Mentone boys weren’t finished with yet in the crucial set that would go on to shape the result of the game, with Ben Ryan igniting an almighty comeback with some classy serving that was backed up with solid setting for his teammates.

One of those teammates was Jeremy Williams, and as the ball seemed perfectly placed for a monumental spike and the Trinity players pushed back to return it, Williams displayed pure finesse with the touch of a god to simply place the ball over the net. Mentone were back, although still trailing 20-22 before fighting strongly as a team to win the set 25-23.

The tone of the second set was embedded early when Finn Ryan and Jeremy Williams rose as one to deny Trinity’s star spiker access to the Mentone court, whilst securing a 3-1 buffer on serve and all the momentum. This was reinforced by Florent and Mathew Scott (captain), who both nailed emphatic spikes to extend the margin to 8-4. Whilst the offense was aggressive, the defence was full of discipline and illustrated a balanced and composed Mentone unit. Florent served with confidence, proving hard to play as Mentone marched on to a 15-8 lead. All credit to Trinity, who fought back fiercely with the score reading 16-13. However, just like in the first set, when the Mentone boys were challenged they always managed to find a way, an essential characteristic of a championship team. Some well executed team plays led by Ben Ryan saw Mentone cruise home to a 25-18 win in the second set, 2-0. They were well on their way to premiership glory. 

The third set was a thriller, with Trinity refusing to hand Mentone an easy win and subsequently the premiership cup. Captain Scott stood up in the last, lifting the energy amongst the team in the seesawing affair. The spikes were big from both teams, as the returns became desperate. Mentone had one hand on the cup and for Trinity the reality of defeat was palpable as they conjured an extra gear in their game. The extensive and talented roster was headlined by Zac Angus, who made his way onto the court in the last set, right in the peak of pressure. Angus served well before executing a block that would prove pivotal in the match. Florent continued his spiking form before Scott fittingly delivered the dagger, almost hitting his head on the roof before thrusting his palm through the ball as the crowd held their breath. 25-23, 25-18, 28-26 – Mentone Grammar were PREMIERS.

The game was played in good spirits, with the Trinity Grammar captain full of praise for Mentone, labelling them as the ‘benchmark’ of the competition. Scott commended Trinity and thanked the referees, before turning to his team, clearly proud with a huge grin– ‘boys, we did it’.

Amazingly, the Mentone team will go largely unchanged for next year with the young squad set to defend their title. 

Lachie Moorhouse (2017)

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