Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fall Season Concludes with Two 5-Set Home Matches

December 13, 2014


Coach Dick Runesson believes the "will to win" gave GVK the advantage

Final Score: Gislaved 3 - Örebro 2 (20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11)
Best Attacker: Lauren Rafdal, 18 kills
Best Blocker: Lisa Tannerfalk, 5 blocks
Best Server: Mikaela Larsson, 3 aces
Best Serve Receiver: Amanda Länkinen
MVP: Lauren Rafdal

It was a real battle between Gislaved and Örebro.

Örebro controlled the match in the first set and won by five points. But in the second set, Gislaved came back. With the help from nine blocks, they won the set 25-17. Their momentum continued after the intermission. GVK had a commanding lead at 11-2, but Örebro narrowed their lead to 14-13. Gislaved then made another run, and finished the set 25-21.

Again, Örebro fought back and the momentum from the previous games carried GVK in the fourth set, but they were unable to resume control, and dropped the set 22-25.

The deciding set was a back-and-forth battle, with Örebro leading until 6-7. Then came the pressure. Gislaved went up to 11-7 and never let up.

“We executed our game plan well, and controlled the net both blocking and attacking. It was a full team effort,” says best point-scorer in GVK, Lauren Rafdal. 

GVK's Sherman (6) and Tannerfalk (9) block against Örebro's Rottman (8)

December 15, 2014


Lauren Rafdal made her home debut when Gislaved met Örebro. She was crowned with a victory and prize as MVP. "I feel very strong and good," she says.

After a back-and-forth battle, GVK took the win over Örebro 3-2. The match started with a commanding lead from Örebro, but as the first set continued, Gislaved’s momentum grew. Unfortunate errors by GVK helped Örebro to take set one, 20-25. The home team would not go down without a fight, and as the set started, Gislaved's net-play soared. A season-high 9 blocks in the second set confirmed the 25-17 win for GVK.

"We've been in this situation before, that we must overcome a shaky start. There were times that Örebro fought to close our lead, but we were able to stay mentally strong and keep pushing forward through the pressure," said coach Dick Runesson.

After an 11-2 lead, Örebro came back to trail by just one point, but again Gislaved fought on to secure the third set 25-21. Despite the momentum, GVK dropped the fourth set to a resilient Örebro 22-25.

"But the start Örebro got in the fourth was not earned. We made mistakes at the wrong time, and helped them to that victory.”

The match went to a fifth set, whereby Örebro led by one or two balls until 6-7. Then came the pressure Gislaved went up to 11-7 and did not let up.

"I do not think we played our best volleyball but we fought well and we did not get stressed.” According to Runesson, the will to win was key in the victory.

Another factor was Lauren Rafdal. The American outside hitter took 21 points.

"She will [continue to] get into it more and more and was a big part in the win. It's a small adjustment for her, so we'll let it take some time. She will acclimate more and more but I am very pleased with her home debut,” said Runesson.

Rafdal herself was also satisfied. That said, 21 points and appointed match MVP in her home debut is nothing to joke about.

"I feel very strong and good. But the team is very helpful. I’m “the new girl” and all, but they have welcomed me well.”

Rafdal’s credits the team for the win: “We protected the net. Strong blocking and attacking from everyone really helped secure the victory,” she says.

And a city girl entering the small town life?
"I'm from a larger city so it is a bit different. I like the family feeling in the city. But it's a whole new experience and I like the difference!"

Lauren Rafdal (3) led the Gislaved attack with 18 kills

December 17, 2014

Compared to last season, GVK has had a heavier match schedule
Pictured: Meghan Sherman (6) and Sanna Schultz (11)
Soon players in Gislaved Volleyboll Klubb will get a much needed rest when the Swedish Elite Series takes a pause over the winter holidays. The team will have time to lick their wounds and find new courage to continue when the series restarts in January.

Gislaveds VK has not gone far in the series. Nine points have been awarded after twelve matches, placing GVK in eighth place. The team has one final home match this Saturday against Sollentuna, then kicks off the New Year on 10 January.

Last season, GVK was a contender for the gold, but this season the club brought in fewer players and focused on homegrown talents applicable with less experience. Talking gold and GVK in the same breath has therefore somewhat estranged. The coach Dick Runesson has a good feeling with the break is approaching.

“We are where we should be at this time, in a rather stable playoff spot.”

Dick Runesson is fairly satisfied with what the team has achieved thus far, but it is about "doing good things" a little more often and minimize the slumps, which is something that still occurs too often. He is clear on how the break in the series will be used.

“We will lick the wounds. There are many tired bodies. This break is for rest and recovery, no friendly competition. We will train in between holidays, since the series starts in early January.”

Are the players worn down? 
“They are, they must knock on wood because I thought they would be much more worn out at this time because there have been more matches [than in previous years].”

How is the competition in the team? 

“Competition is good where we are located. We have the players that we have, and I am satisfied. I think it gets better and better, we shall see how far we can go in the playoffs.”

December 20, 2014

The ball and the victory slipped away from Mikaela Larsson (on floor) and Gislaved VBK
Final Score: Gislaved 2, Sollentuna 3 (20-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 9-15)
Best Attacker: Lauren Rafdal, 12 kills
Best Blocker: Jollan Åkerlund, 3 blocks
Best Server: Mikaela Larsson and Sanna Schultz, 3 aces each
Best Serve Receiver: Meghan Sherman and Lauren Rafdal, 95% positive
MVP: Sanna Schultz 
Gislaved VBK and Mikaela Larsson have lost a number of times this season, but none like this.

Larsson was still sitting on the bench. Her teammates had gone further into the locker room. She had to let the events sink in. “I'm very disappointed. It is the most painful loss so far.”

Her synopsis: “We did not play as well as we could throughout the whole match. When we do that, we can beat all the top teams. Sure, Sollentuna is [ranked] above us in the table, but we showed too much unnecessary respect,” she said after the 2-3 loss to Sollentuna.

Gislaved had swept away Sollentuna with large Christmas broom in the second set. GVK was hard-serving, made good serve receptions and tough game at the net. But in the third set, it was Sollentuna who controlled the service game. Gislaved again made a great sets in the fourth.

“Then we followed the game plan again and serve hard. We controlled them. We dared to go-for-it tough at the front line. When we do that, we are the better team.”

She did not say it herself, but the loss did not feel like an earned point, but as two that were lost.
Note: Teams are awarded 3-points towards the series for 3-0 or 3-1 wins; in a 5-set match, the winning team is awarded 2-points and the losing team is awarded 1-point.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How-To Christmas Like a Swede

"Merry Christmas" in Swedish
It is Christmastime here in Sweden, officially greeted by the first advent: November 30th. The stores are filled with lights and decorations, many similar to those found in the States, but others fairly unique.

Tomten, aka Santa Claus, is absolutely adorable, resembling more of a gnome than the Coca-Cola drinking man to which Americans are more accustomed. These little guys are mostly round balls with full-length beards and giant hats. Julbocken or Yule Goat is a goat made from straw. Swedish legends claim that the Julbocken brings presents for children on Christmas Eve, as does Tomten. Swedish people often put Julbocken under their Christmas trees and even hang them on the walls for good luck.
Julbocken in Gävle
Varmljus (candles) are highly traditional, lit every Sunday during advent to countdown the days until Christmas. With the sun barely rising above the horizon during the winter months, Swedes illuminate their homes with candles to help keep the dark away. Similarly, many decorate with the julstärna, literally translated into English as "Christmas star". These origami-type lamps are arguably the most Swedish holiday decoration.

Advent candles in our home
The Lucia celebration represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth. Tradition has it that Lucia is to wear ‘light in her hair’, which in practice means a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle. The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The gingerbread men and bakers bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns. The Lucia celebrations also include ginger snaps and sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter) shaped like curled-up cats and with raisin eyes. You eat them with glögg or coffee.
Lucia program at Sörgårdskolan in Gislaved

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gislaved Topped by League Leaders

December 3, 2014

The newly signed American, Lauren Rafdal, and GVK had a terrible night in Ängelholm. Engelholm VS proved to be too difficult and handed a quick 0-3 loss to GVK. "Of the six players on [our] court, someone is always taking a mental time out. When you give EVS one play off, they can steal the match away," said assistant coach Daniel Magnusson. Pictured L to R: Lina Johansson (5), Lisa Tannerfalk, & Lauren Rafdal (3)


Lauren Rafdal made her debut with Gislaved Volleyboll Klubb at Wednesday’s away match in Ängelholm. Unfortunately, her performance was overshadowed, as GVK lost in straight sets.

Final Score: Engelholm 3 - Gislaved 0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-18)
Best Attacker: Meghan Sherman, 6 kills
Best Blocker: Lisa Tannerfalk and Joyce Åkerlund, 2 blocks each
Best Server: 4 players recorded 1 ace each
Best Serve Receiver: Amanda Länkinen
MVP: Amanda Länkinen

After two straight wins, GVK came to a halt. Series leader Engelholm was way too tough an opposition for Gislaveds elite league team. “They ran over us,” noted GVK's Amanda Länkinen.

Gislaved had a new player on the floor, outside hitter Lauren Rafdal, who accounted for three points. “It felt really good with Lauren, but it's hard to get into a new team,” says Länkinen.

“[Lauren] was okay today, but we know she can do much more. She has had only two practices with the team and there is a big difference between American and Swedish volleyball. It will get better,” says assistant coach Daniel Magnusson.

December 7, 2014


GVK was unable to overcome the atmosphere in Katrineholm.

Final Score: Katrineholm 3 - Gislaved 0 (25-9, 25-21, 25-10)
Meghan Sherman sets up Jollan Åkerlund

Best Attacker: Lauren Rafdal, 6 kills
Best Blocker: Sanna Schultz, 2 blocks
Best Server: Lisa Tannerfalk, 1 ace
Best Serve Receiver: Meghan Sherman
MVP: Meghan Sherman

Katrineholm is a good team with a variety of attacking options. GVK was unable to rise to their level in the first set, dropping the frame 9-25. After a lineup change, Gislaved returned with a new focus and fought hard throughout the second set. After Emma Petersson’s unexpected injury at the end of the set, GVK lost what little momentum they had and Katrineholm won 22-25. Gislaved emptied the bench in the third set, but it was clear that Katrineholm would be the victor, finishing the match 10-25.