Sliema Wanderers win First Division
This year’s Women’s First Division, organized by the Malta Volleyball Association, has produced the most interesting competition at all levels of local volleyball. The Women’s and Men’s Super Leagues were mathematically won weeks before the last fixtures by Balzan Flyers and Valletta respectively. On the other hand, the Women’s First Division was as close as it gets right until the very last game, with Sliema Wanderers approaching the final game with only 1 point advantage over second placed Swieqi Phoenix. The numerous previous encounters between these two teams had always produced some very fine volleyball from both sides and with either team still in contention for a place in the Super League, the final game promised to be no different from the rest.
The teams took to the court in front of a sizeable crowd, with families, friends and enthusiasts coming in numbers to see this last encounter of the season between two very promising teams. Sliema Wanderers started out slowly but after keeping Phoenix constantly in sight, managed to gain momentum and closed the set at 25-17 with little difficulties. Phoenix were not ready to throw in the towel yet and through some fine performances pushed Sliema to a point by point bout which helped them win the second set 27-25.
With the game tied at 1-1 both teams were now pressured to prove their mettle. It was Sliema however who right from the start made their intentions very clear and went on to take an important advantage which they managed to administer until the end of the set, which they closed once again at 25-17.
The drama then unfolded in the fourth set. With Sliema seemingly relaxing after winning their second set and Phoenix not ready to give up, it seemed like the game would once again be reopened with a convincing Phoenix start. The Sliema girls seemed unable to react to the enthusiasm and organization shown by Phoenix and went immediately 10 points under. By the time the score was 13-3 for Phoenix, Sliema Coach Kris Croker had already utilized his 2 time outs for the set, leaving him very few options, if any, to help his girls out of this difficult situation. At this point something that no one expected happened. The Sliema girls, though still struggling, started coming out of the difficult situation, gaining back point by point over a Phoenix team who still tried but found it harder to manage their advantage. Led by the experience of Melissa Cheviron who won her team point after point on service and attack, Sliema managed to tie the game at 20-20 and kept this momentum going until the final score of 25-21, turning a 10 point deficit to a 4 point lead.
This result confirms Sliema Wanderers’ participation in next year’s Super League. A big thank you goes to all the players: Melissa Cheviron, Lora Darmanin, Dana Falzon, Adriana Finocchiaro, Mikaela Galea, Kim Grech, Steph Grech, Linda Margetiakova, Antonella Spiteri and Steph Zerafa; to all those who surrounded the team throughout the season, particularly Coaches Rezk Shebani and Kris Croker; to our families and friends for their constant support and to the children of our Nursery and their parents who attended our games.
Sliema Wanderers was also represented by its Under 14 teams on Sunday morning. Despite losing their games they produced some very convincing performances, proving that the Club’s future will be characterized by a lot of hard work, but surely with a lot of satisfaction for all those involved in the Club