Saturday, March 26, 2011

All tied up

Based on how close we came to taking match one at their place, we were feeling pretty confident going in to our home match this Thursday night. We were thrown a little bit of a curveball, however, on Thursday when we heard that our leading outside hitter, Erik Brandsjö, had a fever and would not be able to play. We knew this series would not be easy and this was going to make things even more difficult.

Going in to the match, we could really feel the excitement in the town for something that hasn't happened in a long time. The last time Tierp Volley advanced past the first round of the playoffs was in 2005, when they ended up losing in the finals. We knew we were going to have great crowds for the rest of the playoffs and Thursday night didn't disappoint. Our little gym was packed half an hour before first serve and you could almost feel a sense of nervousness in the crowd. Apparently, even a couple of the women's team players couldn't sleep on Wednesday night. I slept like a baby, however. Nervousness has never really been a problem for me.

Anyways, the match started off really well for us, jumping out to early 8-4 and 16-14 leads but faltered late in the first set and ended up dropping the set 25-21. We made some minor adjustments going in to the second and they paid immediate dividends. We had leads of 8-5 and 16-12 at the technical timeouts and never looked back in a 25-18 win.

Set three was one of those perfect games for one team and an absolute nightmare for the other, luckily it was in our favor. I started out the third with a six point service run, which powered us to an 8-1 technical timeout lead. We also led 16-4 at the second timeout on our was to an easy 25-14 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.

The fourth set was a more typical set for us in this postseason. We really struggled early and had to battle back to get it done in four sets. We were down 16-12 but rallied to take a 21-19 lead and finish out the match with a 25-21 win.

It definitely wasn't a pretty volleyball match at any point, and was never even really that competitive, but we found a way to win it and that's all that matters. Eric Simon played great and led the way with 29 points, if he keeps playing this well and we have Erik Brandsjö healthy we're going to be tough to stop. We really are the most well rounded team left in the playoffs, we have five hitters that we can go to with the game on the line. I finished with four kills, three blocks and two aces. My serve really has become a game changer in the playoffs. I lead the postseason in aces by a wide margin. I have 15 and the next highest player has nine. Hopefully I can add to that total tomorrow in Falkenberg and we can steal the away win that we need.

Tomorrow's game will be broadcast but not on the normal site. Here's the link:


I'm not really sure how this link is going to work. When I clicked on it now, it opened in a video program called VLC Player, which you can download here:

Also, I've been hearing that it's hard to follow the match since they don't show the score often. While watching the video, you can also open the livescore link in another window, here's the link for that:

We push the clocks ahead here tomorrow, so match time is back at 10 AM Chicago time. Enjoy! Go Tierp!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Hey, sorry that I haven't kept you informed the last week. Long story short, we pulled off the upset in match five in Linköping! Somehow we managed to win in three sets and each one by two points. It was pretty crazy.

We then started the best of five semifinal series on Sunday in Falkenberg. We were up two sets to one after three but couldn't finish off the home team and ended up losing 15-13 in the fifth. We really didn't play well at all and still almost stole one on their court so we are feeling pretty good about our chances in another long five match series. But a win tonight is a must if we are going to pull off another upset. Good thing tonight's match will be broadcast online again on Volleykanalen! Click on the link to watch at 1 PM Chicago time:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March Madness

So, a lot to catch up on in the last week. To save you from the suspense, I will tell you that our fifth and final match against Linköping is tomorrow night. Winner moves on, loser is done. Somehow I knew that this series would go all five matches, but I had no idea how epic the first four would be.

I've already gone over the five set heartbreaker that was match one, but match two was just as incredible. We won the first set and the proceeded to drop the next two. We knew we had
to defend "our barn" if we were to have any chance in this series and it showed in the fourth set with a 25-17 crushing, including a late five point serving run by yours truly. The fifth set started out about as poorly as possible for us, falling down 5-1 and then 9-5 but somehow we kept battling and thanks to a couple huge defensive plays and some timely errors by our opponents we fought our way back and scored 10 of the last 12 points and won 15-11. It was a pretty amazing match and a huge boost to our team confidence to finally pull out a marathon of a match. We could also feel some excitement from the town, and I ended up with a pretty sweet picture on the cover of the Uppsala newspaper the next morning. Going into match three we were feeling pretty good about our prospects of stealing the match on the road that we needed. Things didn't quite go as planned.

Match three was one I'd rather block out of my memory completely. It was an absolute train wreck basically from start to finish. We got completely smoked in the first and third set, showing a little bit of life in the second, but failing to convert our set point opportunity and losing that set 26-24. We really couldn't get anything going, our outsides got blocked a lot and we didn't pass well enough to get Kyle and I involved as much as we would like. It was also one of those days where the ball just kept finding a way to sneak by us. I thought Kyle and I were pretty consistently in the right place to make a block and the ball just wouldn't find us. Luckily, that luck turned around on Tuesday night back in Tierp.

From the first ball, I knew that this was going to be my best match of the season. We started the match receiving and after a perfect pass I got a great set from Peter and absolutely crushed one to zone five for the first point of the match. Since I started playing middle for some reason Peter and I have had a really hard time getting a consistent connection going. Tuesday night was the first time I think we really felt comfortable with each other, and he kept feeding me all match. Anyways, after that first kill I was up to serve and reeled off four more points, including two aces, to take a fast 5-0 lead to begin the match. They never got closer than three points from us for the rest of the first set and we cruised in feeling good with a 25-19 victory.

Game two was another huge letdown for the entire team. Absolutely nothing went right for us, and we got smoked 25-13. We just had to keep things in perspective and realize that all that means is the match is tied and that score can't hurt us anymore.

Moving on to set three, things were still kind of going their way for most of the time. It was back and forth for a long time before they ended up taking a 21-16 lead. Like so many times before in this series we knew we could fight our way back into that set. After some high-pressure serving from Kyle and a couple blocks by me, we found ourselves ties at 22-22 and eventually clawed our way to a 25-23 victory and a 2-1 match lead.

Set four was a typical one for this series, they led 8-5 at the first technical timeout, but we fought back to take a 16-13 lead to the second one. From there on out we were clinging to small
leads and eventually found ourselves serving at 24-23. I've already gone over just how horrible the refs are here, but they really haven't changed all season so it really should be no surprise, but eventually the calls had to start going our way, and what better time than on a set point? They had a shaky pass and set one of their big guns, Luke Smith, who can basically hit over any block. He did just that with a pretty good roll shot to deep zone one that clearly land on the inside of the line. The whole gym waited for the call as both refs looked at each other, eventually the up ref lifted his arm in our direction. We were definitely owed a couple calls over the course of the match so I don't feel too bad about getting the benefit of that call.

As I said at the beginning, I just knew I was going to have a great match and I did. Eight kills on 10 swings, two aces and four blocks earned me my first match MVP of the season. Here's hoping that I can repeat the results on Thursday night and we can move on to play Falkenberg this weekend! Thanks for reading, I'll write soon. Go Tierp!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thursday's Match Online!

Hey everyone! Just had to let you know that this Thursday's match against Linköping will be broadcast live online at 16:45 CET/11:45 AM US Central time. If you have access to a computer at that time tune in to cheer us on!

Here is the link:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quarterfinals Match One

We knew going in to this series that it was going to be a battle all the way through, and if the first match is any indication this is going to be an epic war. I figured Linköping picked us to play based on the extremely lackluster performance that we put forth at their place in January. But they must have forgotten that we swept them when we played in Tierp.

We started a little slow in the first set and battled back in the middle of it with some great defense and good high swings, but they steadily held the lead and won the set 25-20. The score doesn't really show how close it was and we could see what was going to make them uncomfortable and now we had an idea of what it would take to win the match. Set two was a close battle until we took a 16-15 lead to the second technical timeout. From there we broke away and ended up winning 25-19. During that run, their coach seemed to panic and made a bunch of changes, including switching setters and taking out their best (and honestly, only) hitters. Things were looking up for Tierp Volley going into the third.

The third set was almost a carbon copy of the first, however. We trailed by 2-3 points most of the way and let up at the end, losing 25-21. I came up to serve first in the fourth and finally put a couple good float serves in. Including one of my three aces. My run put us up 3-0 to start the set and after falling behind a little, we eventually took a 16-13 lead that led to a hard-fought 25-22 set four win. We felt pretty good taking our favored opponents to a fifth set in the first match at their place, but a match win would be a huge step towards taking them out for good, seeing as how we have to win at least one match at their place to move on.

In the fifth set it wasn't to be though. We fell down early 3-0 on a couple mental errors, but eventually battled back to receive at 12-11. Then the refs took over the match. They had been pretty good the whole match but their missed call at 12-11 is really what decided the game. We got a good pass and Peter set Andy a nice ball, who clearly hit the ball high off of their outside hitters hands, the ball obviously changed directions and spin. Every single person in the gym saw what happened except for the two completely oblivious men whose job it is to pay attention. A 12-12 tie with one of our best servers coming up is a completely different game then a 13-11 score. I know people sound like idiots when they complain about refereeing but I can't tell you how frustrating it is to practice for six months and then play your ass off for almost two hours and have the match decided by incompetence on the part of the people that should have no part in deciding the outcome. So after a 15-11 loss in the fifth set it is back to Tierp for match two on Thursday night.

If we play anywhere near as well as we did on Sunday on Thursday we should have no problem taking the match and going back to Linköping on Sunday to steal one this time. Here's hoping the match is decided by the guys in the jerseys and not the stripes. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Playoff time

Hej hej, I know it's been a while since my last update again, but the last couple regular season matches had no real meaning as far as the playoffs were concerned so I figured I would wait until I had some real news. Just to sum it up, we beat Vingåker at home in four sets on the 13th and lost to Falköping on the road in four on the 20th. To finish up the regular season we had Habo at home tonight, a team we beat in five sets after being down 0-2 back in December. Tonight was a little bit of deja vu.

We dropped a tight first set 26-24 and then continued the same type of play in set two with a disappointing 25-22 loss. For whatever reason, we would be up late in the teens and then allow a four or five point run and be right back in a hole again. Luckily we turned things around with a dominant 25-12 win in the third set. Definitely the best that we played but we really didn't have to do much to win. We drastically cut back on our errors and took advantage of a lot of low swings by Habo and blocked or touched a ton of balls. They were definitely frustrated but came out much better in the fourth.

We jumped out to an 8-4 lead but they battled back and we went to the second technical timeout up 16-15. That's when things got interesting. We had a back and fourth final third of that set until we found ourselves up 24-23. Me and our setter, Peter went
out strong to block their big gun, who was hitting from the left side on that play. On the way down I bumped into Peter in the air and he ended up landing on my foot and turning his ankle. Down 2-1 in sets and late in the fourth is not a good time to lose basically the most important player on the court. Since our backup setter, Andy, was playing outside in the game we had no one to come in and set for us. That's where I come in. I was middle front at the time, so we subbed in one of our outsides, Jocke, and let him and Erik Brandsjö hit with me setting high balls out of the middle. Needless to say, I have never been a setter in my life but I can set high balls well enough. My first set was to Erik and they touched his attack and ended up killing it on us. The next play we got another good pass but this time I set Eric Simon on the back row attack. It might have been a little tough, but nothing wrong with letting your hitters fly a little bit. Anyways, Andy took over once he got in the front row and we ended up winning that set 28-26 to push it to five. I'm definitely adding "Setter" to my resume of positions.

Andy took over setting duties and we won game five fairly easily 15-8. We finished the season right at .500. A record of 9-9 in matches, 34-34 in sets and 1,523-1,500 in overall points makes this season one of the most mediocre in volleyball history. But now is the time of the season that really matters, playoffs. After a lot of speculation and wrong guessing, Linköping ended up picking us to play in the first round. Honestly, I was hoping to avoid them but we have beaten them in Tierp and no matter who we played it was going to be a challenge. The best of five quarterfinal series starts next Sunday in Linköping and then continues next Thursday and Sunday, if necessary matches four and five will be the following Tuesday and Thursday. The home team switches off every match. Anything can happen in the playoffs, so hopefully we pull off a March Madness upset of our own.

For me personally, I finished twelfth in the league in blocks and eighth in the league in service aces. I definitely should have been credited with more service aces (at least four, which would have put me in third), but the stat taking, especially for the road team isn't very accurate. I was in the top 15 in total points back when I was playing opposite but moving to middle and missing a match dropped me out of the top 25. I've never been much of a personal stats guy. I'm only going to judge this season on how the next couple of weeks go so hopefully I'll have something good to look back on.

Thanks for reading and I'll update with more playoff info soon. Go Tierp!