Today the semi-final sitting volleyball action kicked-off at the HP Field House. UK took on the determined Georgia team with Prince Harry on the sidelines to witness the match. While the teams became friendly prior to the Games, exchanging tips on Skype, this was anything but a friendly competition.
UK took off with a flying start making some clinical attacking moves and defensive blocks, which led to UK claiming the first set.
In true Invictus Games spirit the Georgians were not going down without a fight. Intense team huddles and intimidating chanting helped Georgia take the lead in the second, firing off some cannonball shots, which the UK team weren’t able to return. UK fought back with consistently well-placed shots to try and upset the surge forward from the Georgians, which led to a tight finisher of the second set. The wall of Georgian red and white jerseys at the net forced UK into a tie, meaning the third set would determine who would compete for gold.
The final set was tantalizingly close, Georgia had several expert shots, but the UK pulled it back with a tight measured performance, making the difference. Anil Gurung, UK team member, laid the final blow taking UK into the grand final.
Frank Aveh UK team member told us how the Invictus Games has brought meaning to everything again:
“Invictus means everything to me, it brought me back to life. I was stuck at home doing nothing and this opportunity has led me to serve my country again. The sport brings you back to focusing in life and out of isolation giving me the same camaraderie and feeling of a part of something that I had in the Armed Forces.”
Prince Harry showed his appreciation by joining the Georgian’s team photo, whilst praising their valor and world-class performance despite the loss to the UK. Besarion Gudushauri, Georgia’s captain, explained what it meant to be part of the Invictus Games and what Prince Harry had done to change his and his teammates lives:
“The Games have been amazing, it’s allowed us to make friendships, restart our sporting careers and encourage others to achieve by joining us. The most important thing is to make friends and to learn from each other. I am humbled to a part of these Games a huge thank you from the Georgian team to Prince Harry and to all those involved for all his efforts in transforming so many of our lives.”
Next up was the U.S. vs Netherlands to land the last spot in the finals. Both sets had fans roaring in support, letting their teams know they were not alone. U.S. pulled away in the first set with precise placement of the ball and powerful finishes.
The Dutch team could not respond to the coordinated clinical ball play from the U.S. and the roof raising shots by No.9 Bret Parks. The Dutch did their best to get back into the game after the first set. They had a valiant performance, but it wasn’t enough to crack the skill and spirit of the impeccable U.S. team, who will move forward to the finals against the UK.
Nicholas Titman, USA team member told us:
“It is important for us to come together and play like a team regardless of the score, and I think we did that today. It’s been a fantastic feeling to join my teammates from all over the country and play together with such dominance. We hope to continue that spirit into the gold medal match this evening.”
Final: USA vs UK
Bronze Medal Match: Netherlands vs Georgia
Watch the Final and Bronze medal matches live by clicking here: http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3