Exciting game as Sliema advance to Quarter Finals
Once again, a very exciting encounter between Sliema Wanderers and Paola Volley, this time in the National Cup. As previously written, the 3 Super League games between the two sides have proven to be nail biters with Paola winning the first 2 (3-2) and Sliema winning the last game (3-1). The draws for the National Cup put us up once again against Paola for what promised to be another interesting game.
The numerous difficulties that the Sliema team was facing, through injuries and sickness of a number of players, seemed to dampen the hopes of the girls in white in the run up to the game. Most noticeable was the absence of player-coach Melissa Cheviron, who unfortunately did not recover on time for the game from a bad ankle injury. However what seemed to be an uphill struggle for the Sliema Ladies, turned out to be once again a very entertaining game of high level volleyball.
Paola started off very strong in the first set, with a well organized serve-receive and obtaining valuable direct points with their services. The first set went completely in their direction ending at 25-18. However Sliema were not yet ready to throw in the towel and made an impressive start to the second set with a series of good services from Captain Linda Margetiakova, who led her team to a relatively comfortable win at 20-25. A balanced third set saw Paola challenging Sliema’s serve receive and defence, a very interesting battle particularly between Sliema libero Mikaela Galea and Paola middle blocker Serena Burato. It was only in the last stages of the set that Sliema would manage to close the set 23-25.
The fourth set was yet another surprise. Sliema seemed to be playing with the confidence gained in the previous 2 sets, with Jolanta Szubert and Toni Sieber working well both in back-court as well as on the net. With the score standing at 11-19 for Sliema, Paola started gaining point after point and managed to change an 8 point deficit to a 3 point advantage, winning the set (25-22) and pushing for a tie-breaker, for a repeat of what had happened in the first 2 previous games between these teams.
The tie-break was once again a point by point bout, with Sliema taking the early advantage only to lose it to Paola who were by then leading with a slim margin (8-5) before changing court. Neither team wanted to lose the game, but it was Captain Margetiakova who spurred her team mates and through both impeccable setting and work on defence managed to organize her team and push them forward to win the set (13-15) and the game (2-3).
Sliema Wanderers will now meet Mgarr Volley in the National Cup Quarter Finals. The winner of this encounter will go on to play the winner in the derby match between Fleur de Lys 1 and Fleur de Lys 2.
A big thanks to our ever-present supporters and a round of applause goes to Sliema Wanderers for the win, but also to Paola Volley for being a worthy opponent throughout the whole season. We look forward to battling it out again next season.