Weekend Picks: Cup and Shield semi finals
21st February 2013
Saturday 23rd February 2013 - Men's Cup semi final - St Benedicts School, W5 2ES - 16:30
London Polonia vs. Wessex BU
First up its the eagerly anticipated Cup semi final between Division 1 side Wessex and last year’s runners up London Polonia; and with more than the final at stake between these two teams we’re expecting an adrenalin fuelled clash!
Wessex has so far enjoyed a successful season and is well on track to achieve promotion to the Super 8s. Olympians Ben Pipes and Dan Hunter, who both played crucial roles for Team GB at London 2012 last summer, have been invaluable assets to the Bournemouth side.
And it goes without saying that Wessex will not be fazed by the big teams having so far dispatched Super 8s Malory Eagles and London Lynx in the competition.
Looking ahead to the tie Wessex’s captain, Dan Hunter said: "We are very excited about the game and have worked hard to be in this position which is where we want to be.
“Polonia away is always a difficult match but we have gained valuable experience already beating two Super 8s teams - SGTV Solent 1 and Malory Eagles which will stand us in good stead. Our Head Coach, Vangelis is looking forward to taking on his old team."
Polonia currently sit third in the Super 8s and have always been an impressive force in the National Cup competition. The London side will be looking to go one better this time around after missing out to Leeds Carnegie in a gripping five set final last season.
So far in this season’s campaign, Polonia has shown exceptional form and is yet to drop a set.
Polonia Coach, Chris Hykiel commented: “Polonia against Wessex in the Cup involves many friends facing each other across the net. Former Polonia coach Vangelis Koutouleas leads the team from Division 1 and amongst his players are former players Alex Chevau and Tomek Lasocki, both of who have been encouraged to move to the coast from London by matters other than volleyball.
“The encounter should prove to be a tough battle, with Wessex boasting two Olympians in their squad. Polonia also have a wealth of experience to select from in the biggest match of the season for both teams.”
Polonia’s Captain, Michas added: “Polonia and Wessex haven’t played each other for many years in the top flight but they are a team that we will not underestimate. With a wealth of experience (at the highest level) in their side I can’t wait for a titanic battle. With former-coaches and players on show this could be a mind battle as well as immense desire to cement a cup final spot.”
For more information about the featured teams visit their websites London Polonia and Wessex BU. See the match advert created by Polonia here.
Sunday 24th February 2013 - Women's Shield semi final - Limehurst Academy, LE11 1NH - 11:00
Loughborough Students vs. Coventry & Warwick Riga
Sunday’s weekend pick sees the battle of East and West in the women’s Shield semi final between Division 2 North teams, Loughborough Students and Coventry & Warwick Riga.
In terms of head to heads these teams have played each other twice in the league; and Loughborough Students will go into the tie full of confidence having beaten their rivals both home and away.
Loughborough coach, Beth Lowney commented: “Our last two encounters with Riga gave us two good wins. During these games we put out different sides and this gives me the confidence in the whole team to bring us this win.
“We've had a few slow starting games recently but the team should be back at full strength by the weekend. We don't want to underestimate Riga but our plan is to go and play our game and actually enjoy it.”
Loughborough captain, Julia Thompson added: “We are really looking forward to this semi final and are going into the match with confidence. They are a good side so we cannot afford to be complacent – we’ve got to play our best to secure a place in the Shield Final.”
A strengthened Riga side fielding new signings and an injury free squad will be seeking revenge on the team from the East Midlands this time around; and will be hoping to go one better than last season’s semi final exit.
Riga’s assistant coach, Chris Jones said: “The squad is really looking forward to this weekend’s shield semi final against Loughborough. We’re determined to improve on last seasons shield run when we also reached the semi final but lost out to eventual winners Team South Wales.
“We know Loughborough Students well having played them twice in the league already but we are confident that we can ensure the result goes our way this weekend.
“A shield game will always have a different dynamic being a knockout competition and since we last played them we’ve strengthened the squad and we have others returning from injury, so it's sure to be a great game!”
For more information about the featured teams visit their websites Loughborough Students and Coventry & Warwick Riga
For more information about the National Cup competition and for all this weekend's fixtures please click here.