Lindfield and Nicolle enjoying a new Games experience
IT IS not often that competitors with plenty of Island Games experience can be called debutantes.
But in Gibraltar, with no traditional volleyball tournament being held, Guernsey duo Jennifer Lindfield and Gemma Nicolle are turning their hand to beach volleyball for the first time and enjoying being out in the sun and on the sand of the Camp Bay courts.
After opening their inaugural campaign with a 21-8, 21-9 defeat to Gotland’s Wahlen and Edmunsson, yesterday morning with the sun rising over the Rock and to the back drop of the magnificent Europa Waterfall, they stepped out for their second match of the week, facing the imposing task of taking on Aland’s Tania Sjoblom and Melina Mangs.
The Alanders were in no mood to allow the Sarnian novices the liberty of finding their feet and quickly won the first half-a-dozen points before a Lindfield block got Guernsey on the board.
Although points were not regularly forthcoming in the first set, the Sarnians visibly grew in confidence as it progressed, putting together longer rallies and better defence even though it ended 21-4.
Cheered on by several of their usual volleyball teammates in the stand, Lindfield and Nicolle carried that confidence into the second set, which was far more competitive throughout and even saw Guernsey open up a 4-1 lead.
However, the strength of the opposition shone through eventually as the Alanders won it 21-10.
‘We’re just getting used to the courts and the standard of play,’ said Lindfield.
‘Yesterday was a big learning curve for us with our first game and I think now for our second game we’ve learnt a lot more and we played a lot better because we know the conditions over here.
‘Today was really good, we had a good game and we worked well together, point for point with Aland in the second set – we couldn’t ask for much more because they are in the top three, they’re going to medal for sure.
‘So happy with our performance.’
The transition from traditional volleyball to the beach version is not an easy one and Lindfield admits it is very much a case of learning on the job this week.
‘It’s harder to run, it’s harder to jump and this week the sand is really deep here – it’s nothing that all the teams are used to so that’s a real big struggle for the legs.
‘It’s like quick sand, you step into it and you sink, which is slightly annoying for us when you know you can get to the ball but the sand is stopping you.’
It is not surprising that the Sarnian duo are not setting any outlandish expectations, but for them this Games is about representing Guernsey and making the most of the experience.
‘We’ve got a tough group, we’ve got the gold medallists from two years ago and the bronze medallists from two years ago,’ Lindfield said.
‘Gibraltar are a strong side as well because obviously they’ve had this court to train on, so we’d be happy with getting close and winning a set.’