Super 8s Roundup
15th January 2017
Men’s Super 8s
Saturday 14th January 2017
TN men suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, losing 3-2 (16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24, 25-12) to Malory Eagles after travelling to the capital without a coach and two key players.
“It was really difficult because we were missing Seain Cook and Peter Bakare who are two huge players,” added TN’s coach. “And we know Malory are a decent team.
“We’ll learn from our mistakes. We know we can turn that result around and we have a big game against Polonia in February which will probably decide the Super 8s.
“You learn more from defeats than you do from winning and we’ll take away our positives from the game and build on our weaknesses and we’ll fix them.”
Douglas Barr-Hamilton was at the game and gives his thoughts on the match.
Although it was 8:9 before Eagles fell permanently behind the visitors in the opening set, Northumbria always looked the sharper side and made far fewer unforced errors especially with service. At 13:18, coach Jefferson Williams brought his captain Luciano Pinter and Christopher Chapell'e off the bench and, although they failed to slow Northumbria's progress, the side looked better balanced and the blocking looked more solid.
The signs were there for an improved performance and it duly came in the second. Fighting for every point they held their own, leading by a single point at the first technical time-out then going ahead from 12:all to 15:12 as Northumbria began to look rather rattled, from 22:20 fading badly. On changing ends Eagles needed to impose themselves on proceedings but, having taken a 3:1 lead, they started to play too casually and were soon getting a lecture in a time-out at 4:6 and another at the first technical time-out. Fortunately for them the second stoppage broke the concentration of Matthew Wright and his long run of successful serving came to an end. At last Eagles' form returned and they began to compete again although a two-point deficit at 11:13 when the visitors sought a time-out and at 12:14 was as close as they got and Northumbria again raised their game to ease their way to a two sets to one lead.
Northumbria continued to control the game in the fourth set, gradually increasing the pressure and their lead from 6:8 at the first technical time-out to 8:13 and rubbing in their ability with a great cross-court smash by Attila Berndt to make it 12:17. Then Luciano showed he could play the shot just as well but not until 15:21 did Eagles' revival begin. With some good play, they drew closer although at 20:22 their chances still did not look good and at 21:23 the visitors looked as safe. Scott Weninger hit down the line to recover one point. In an unusual move, Jefferson took a time-out on winning the point. Luciano immediately replicated the shot and the scores were tied. A block by Marcin Konpa and Teme Samuel made it 24:23. Set point saved, Northumbria missed their chance first serving long and then, in the next rally, putting their attack wide.
Suddenly the home crowd, seemingly at least as much as the home players, began to believe a home win was possible. Urged on, Malory competed for every point while Northumbria tried to match them. Malory led at 2:1 but only at 7:6 did they go ahead again. They immediately went into a two-point lead when Northumbria were penalised for a rotation fault on service reception, an error questioned at length. It must have unsettled them for Eagles immediately made the lead three points then hung on to it in a tense and exciting final five minutes.
A great win for Malory Eagles. Yet not truly a great match; there remains room for still more improvement.
Playing at home for the first time in 3 fixtures, Wessex played their first game of 2017 vs IBB Polonia, considering their opponent’s recent travels around Europe, Wessex knew a big challenge lay ahead of them and they were not wrong.
The first set proved competitive and exciting for both teams as well as the crowd, Wessex starting the match with two stuff blocks from Andrea Ivanov and Migeul Espinoza, swiftly followed by an ace from Harry Jones. Both teams exchanged points early on, with Polonia holding a slim 2-point lead thanks to physical play form middle Phil Smith and opposite Marius Ciortea. Polonia were able to extend their lead at the business end of the set with strong blocking and offence, taking the set 25-20.
The next set saw Wessex take the initiative early; strong offence from Hunter and Espinoza, coupled with good distribution from setter Olly Batt gave Wessex an early lead, yet Polonia’s physicality proved a determining factor. Both teams exchanged points neck and neck, yet a couple of aces form Polonia gave them set point. Despite saving the first, brutal side out play from Polonia gave them the second set 25-23.
The third set provided a one sided affair, with Polonia running out a 6-0 advantage. Wessex struggled to find rhythm in their offence, with Polonia’s service pressure causing problems for their side out. Defensively, Polonia showed some class, with libero Saller dynamic in the backcourt. Wessex made several substitutions but they proved ineffective, as Polonia went on to win the set 25-15.
Wessex will now refocus and prepare for their next home fixture against London Docklands whilst Polonia travel to the Netherlands for their next fixture of the CEV Challenge Cup.
Polonia Coach, Piotr Graban said “The game with Wessex wasn't one of the easiest, especially with them being at their home venue. I was concerned about the match as it was the first one of the year after the festive break. The game started with poor rhythm and we made errors. However, after a short while, we gained the momentum we had been looking for.”
Sunday 15th January 2017
Lynx leap-frogged Wessex into fourth place in the Super8 league table as a result of this win as Wessex were losing at home to Polonia. The result leaves Docklands in next to last spot although they have several games in hand. Yet it was a close match that will encourage the losers and caution the victors. Docklands' coach Andy Hopper reports:
London Docklands Volleyball began 2017 with a battling performance against local rivals Lynx but came out the wrong end of a 3-1 loss. Due to injury, work commitments and paternity leave Docklands only had seven players available. The depleted squad meant coach Andy Hopper had to rejig his team and switch Bruno Lusic to the outside slot, a position he last played over five years ago. Also, Kieran O'Malley ended Docklands' last match as a makeshift opposite player but this time he started there. The ex-GB setter had an inspired game and more than held his own against GB teammate Yassir Sliti.
Docklands came out of the blocks firing with clever hitting and serving by Mathieu Ras getting the visitors off to an impressive start. They led 13-11 when Lynx coach Davide Tiberti took his first time-out. Docklands would maintain their two-point lead with the help of blocks by O’Malley and Tomek Wysocki. However, Docklands were pegged back after a couple of unforced errors and Lynx took full advantage. Sliti closed out the set 25-21 with a clinical block on Lusic.
Set two followed a similar pattern to the first with Docklands opening up a slender lead which they maintained until the second technical time-out. On this occasion Docklands were able to translate their lead into a winning position and after a long rally Lusic closed out the set 25-22 with a smash off the block.
It was Lynx’s turn to start the better in set three and they duly dominated the first two thirds of the set. Gary Slade and Sliti impressed as they took the game to Docklands. The hosts led 16-10 and looked on course for a comfortable third set win. But Docklands has other ideas and four quick points dragged them back into the match. Deceptive serving from Hias was the catalyst and some dramatic pick-ups by Marcel Sivak and Jean-Baptiste Arzounian gave Docklands the fire they needed. Lynx recovered to lead 20-15 but Docklands came back to within a point at 22-21 down. A block and an ace by Wysocki saw the scores level at 23-23 with the set and match in the balance. A pipe attack by the relatively quiet Taylor Wilson caught the sideline to set up set point to Lynx before a close handling call against Docklands gave the set and a 2-1 lead to Lynx.
Lynx maintained their momentum into set four and quickly took a 7-4 lead. However, again inspired by a run of serves by Hias, Docklands charged into a 10-7 lead. The introduction of ex-Docklands setter Nicolo D’Elia gave Lynx some much needed impetus and he helped his side recover to lead 16-15. With no fresh legs on the bench for Docklands, a similar change was not possible as a series of Docklands’ errors saw the fourth set slip away. In the end Docklands managed to save four match points but it was all too late as Lynx took the set 25-21.
Hopper said afterwards, "We started the match with no expectations and just went for it. In the end we're disappointed by the result as we had a chance to gain crucial points. We can take confidence from today and hopefully use it next weekend".
Docklands face two crucial ties next weekend when they host Sheffield at Ernest Bevin on Saturday and then on Sunday travel to Bournemouth to take on Wessex.
Black Knight: Tomek Wysocki
Docklands MVP: Flavian Hias
Lynx MVP: Gary Slade
Women’s Super 8s
Saturday 14th January 2017
Salford struggled to put a team together and ended up with just 7 players with 2 of those borrowed from the Division three team. Even with that said, the Orcas team were strong and would have beaten taken the win even if Salford had been at full strength. Orcas came to the game without a libero and that was probably their only weakness. If Salford had fielded a stronger team they may have clawed some more points by serving and hitting on the defending middles but it would be unlikely that it would have changed the final score - 3:0 to Orcas.
Sunday 15th January 2017
Team Northumbria women completed a vital double over Super 8s title rivals Team Durham on Saturday with a potentially pivotal 3-1win.
Head coach Dave Goodchild was delighted with TN’s performance on Saturday as they were able to come back from losing the opening set to clinch a decisive victory (20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21).
“The belief and resilience in the team continues to shine through,” said Goodchild. “We were 1-0 down and then we turned it around with some big performances from individual players.
“Paige Fullerton came back and did a really good job. Katie O’Brien had visa issues so only came back on Thursday night - she had one practice session but she played really well.
“Beating Durham twice in the league now gives us a really good chance of winning the Super 8s.”
The women capped off their stellar weekend with a straight sets win over Pulsepoint London Orcas (25-18,25-20, 25-9) on Sunday in Stockton.
The pair of victories leaves TN unbeaten in the Super 8s campaign as they’ve won all seven of their fixtures and coach Goodchild remains confidence for the rest of the season.
“Today the team really gelled - even though they were third or fourth in the league the difference in class was evident,” added Goodchild.
“Whitney (Phillips) was phenomenal. She passed 13 balls to perfection and was really back to her best.
“I think the way Juri (Jurja Vlasic) is developing as a setter is really allowing the offence to flow and credit to her as she really puts the hard work in.
“I am confident in this team. We are getting better and better, we are building, we have a system and it’s something that we stick to.
“We need to peak at the right time for the finals but the girls work hard and they know what they need to do to win it.”