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London 2012 Paralympics: Claire Harvey and GB women's sitting volleyball lose to Brazil in first classification game

Claire Harvey
Claire Harvey

by Alex Hoad at the ExCeL Arena

Claire Harvey admitted the ‘pain’ of the GB women’s sitting volleyball campaign will pay dividends in Rio.

GB lost their fourth consecutive match in straight sets against Brazil on Tuesday night and now face a play-off to decide 7th and 8th place against Japan on Thursday morning back at the ExCeL Arena.

GB’s team was only formed in advance of the London 2012 Games and their opponents have all had plenty more experience on the international circuit.

With eight teams in the two-group competition, Harvey’s aim was always to try and secure a spot in he play-off for 5th and 6th – which Brazil will now contest after their 25-19, 25-10, 25-7, win.

A disappointed Harvey said: “We were hoping for 5th or 6th - that’s where we always pitched ourselves.

“It’s difficult because we’re here and infront of a home crowd and we want to win, but we have got to remember where we are in terms of the newness of our team compared to every other team that’s out there.

“Sometimes we need to remember that and remember that this is about gaining experience and, though it’s painful now, it will pay dividends when we come to Rio.”

Brazil’s superior size gave them an edge when it came to blocking GB serves and their powerful spikes gave GB little chance of keeping the ball in play.

Harvey admitted: “The reality is we were just served off court. We couldn’t get our serve-receives right.

“Whatever we tried it didn’t go right. We don’t have any excuses we didn’t get it right. “

“After the first set we got into a rut, when you’re trying everything and nothing’s working it’s very difficult.

“When you haven’t got that experience behind you that the other teams have got to know what to do it’s difficult.”

The 38-year-old mum-of-two from Ashford added: “We’ve got to go back and think long and hard about what went wrong. We’ll do a lot of training tomorrow on serve-receives to get that right.

“It’s an area which had improved over the past three games and maybe we took our eye of that - we need to get back to basics. It’s a learning curve for us.”

GB lost a narrow game against Japan on Sunday night which could easily have gone the other way and Harvey admitted they could take some confidence from that match.

She said: "Japan move around a lot they are very different to some of the other teams we've played.

"I hope we can take confidence. With the newness of our team and the nerves and the home crowd we need to not focus on outcomes and just focus on playing volleyball and see what happens."


8.16pm - Claire is pretty gutted, it has to be said.

"Fifth or sixth was the target coming in, but we can't forget where we are coming from, every other team has so much more experience than we do."

She said the team's serving and receiving was the problem and vowed to work on it tomorrow before Thursday's match.

If they're playing Japan, as the smart money says, then I saw enough the other day to be sure they have got a chance to win it. One set is all they need, the rest will take care of itself.

More from Claire later.

8.05pm - Sadly it's another straight sets defeat for GB.

Brazil ran-out 25-19, 25-10, 25-7 winners.

The Brazilians were just too big for them, able to reach more balls, block more balls, and power more spikes back past the GB girls.

They will have to lift themselves for Thursday morning.

I'll be back soon with Claire's reaction.

7.47pm - It's a 2-0 lead for Brazil.

Brazil just raced away to a 16-3 lead and although Britain dug deep to close the gap, Brazil ran out 25-10 winners and only need one more set to reach the fifth-place play-off.

7.23pm - Brazil take the first set 25-19.

It could have gone either way but the Brazilians are a bit bigger than GB and have found joy by blocking GB serves at the net, which is something which is not allowed in volleyball, but is in the sitting version of the game.

One thing of note is that GB have brought on sub Julie Rogers, who is just 13-years-old and the youngest member of ParalympicsGB.

6.45pm - Good evening and welcome to ExCeL. I'm here to see if Claire Harvey and the GB women's sitting volleyball team can overcome Brazil and seal a place in the 5th/6th play-off on Thursday morning.

Brazil are pretty fanatical about volleyball and it's no easy task for Harvey, from Ashford, who skippers the side, who are competing in their first ever Games.

They are yet to win a set in the tournament, losing 3-0 to Ukraine, Netherlands and Japan in the group stage, but have shown encouraging signs in their past two games which suggest they have a big performance coming.

The winner will face the winner of the Japan v Slovenia game in a 5th/6th play-off on Thursday while the losers of the two matches will play-off for 7th.

I'll provide live updates on the game here, and also on twitter - @kentonline2012 - throughout the night, and then bring you Harvey's reaction later!

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