Pipes drained by men's volleyball defeat

29 July 2012 / 13:23

Captain Ben Pipes put his hand up to take the blame as Great Britain's men's volleyball team were beaten 3-0 (25-18 25-20 26-24) by Bulgaria on their Olympic debut on Sunday morning.

Despite pitting their inexperience against the world's number nine team, plenty inside Harry Brokking's camp were confident that the game would provide one of the two wins that have been targeted to secure a quarter-final place.

But the form book overrode the emotion of the occasion at Earls Court, with Bulgaria's steel-like defences at the net too high and too wide for Britain's go-to players to breach.

Dami Bakare appeared to be the most culpable - making three critical errors as a five-point third-set lead was squandered - but Pipes insisted any responsibility should be laid at his door.

As the team's setter, the Hull-born 25-year-old failed to find his wide men often enough, and he said: "I didn't find my rhythm. It could be for a multitude of reasons but on my part that let the team down and that lies on my head.

"In the second set we maybe found some more, managed to bung a few holes, and the third set was when we started playing our game. That can compete against these Olympic teams, but today it didn't happen for long enough."

Pipes was keen to stress that nerves - GB have not played in front of a crowd of Sunday's size on home soil before - were not a reason for such a sluggish start, thinking that if anything, he and his team-mates were too keyed up.

"I personally don't think I was nervous. I felt relaxed but the rhythm didn't come. Everyone was pumped, we were maybe over the top, the opposite of nervous," he said.

While Pipes was left to rue what might have been, coach Brokking saluted his players for showing the world what they are capable of. He said: "I think the team played on a whole level we have never seen - don't forget the normal level we perform at. Also, it's a high level and we have to work on our toes and are punished for every mistake we make.

"What we need to do now is cut out the mistakes that we make. The compliment to my team is that they showed plenty of skill, especially in the serve-reception which is the most difficult part of the game."