Super 8s round-up
16th October 2017
The round-up from the elite level of the English game...
Men's Super 8s
Richmond Docklands have confirmed that they are the dark horse for this year’s Super 8s title. Having beaten the reigning champions IBB Polonia in their opening match, the Docklands followed it up at the weekend by beating TeamBU Wessex.
With a few players missing, a trip to a Wessex side which finished third in the regular league season last year looked a tricky prospect for a Docklands side which is a blend of youth and experience.
Richmond, lead by captain Andrew Pink, swept aside their opponents in straight sets. In a first set strewn with errors from both sides, a Panos Karagiannis kill gave Richmond the opener 25-23.
After forcing their way into the lead, Richmond took early control of the second set through some powerful serving from Javier Bello and went on to close out the second 25-18.
At 13-9 up in the third it looked as if Docklands would stroll to victory. Wessex through more caution to the wind to good effect with some explosive serving from Jack Williams reducing the deficit to just one point. Dockland’s experience told though and they closed out a win 26-24.
In the Dockland’s match report, captain Pink reminded everyone that Docklands are still a work in progress is pleased with how the team are developing.
“It’s early in the season and the development of our new team but everything is going in the right direction,” said Pink. “These are the sorts of games you need to win if you want to be in contention at the end of the season. We were able to find the right answers at the right times and everyone played their part.”
If Docklands are going to mount a serious title challenge, then they will have to overcome Team Northumbria.
The northern volleyball powerhouse, got their season off to the perfect start with back-to-back victories at the weekend. On Saturday, they outclassed Malory Eagles with a comfortable victory in three sets to 15,15, and 17.
On Sunday, new arrivals to the Super 8s, Team Essex Blaze made the long trip and underlined their ambition to not simply be making up the numbers. Northumbria won in straight sets but were made to work for it. Essex battled to the end but just didn’t have enough to get a set on the board as they lost to 21, 19, and 21. Essex can take confidence that they belong in the division though with such a battling performance against one of the most successful clubs in modern times.
It was a historic occasion at the home of the English champions, IBB Polonia London. They faced Sheffield Hallam in a game that was screened live on Facebook through huge social media broadcaster UNILAD and also on Polish TV.
The cameras appeared to cause a few nerves as Polonia lost the opening set 25-20. But it was a champion’s response as Polonia took control in the second set to win 25-15 to level the match. Despite Hallam fighting harder in the third, the momentum was with Polonia who took their second set 25-22. They close out the match and victory in front of the cameras and the home crowd 25-17.
After defeat in their first match against Docklands, it was a good reaction by the champions who have made some changes to their squad this season. It sets them up perfectly for a huge clash against Northumbria on Saturday.
Check out the Men's Super 8s league table here.
Women’s Super 8s
The two northern heavyweights continued their 100% starts to the campaign.
While Northumbria received a walk over against Oxford Students, Team Durham enjoyed a straight sets win over Polonia SideOut London.
Polonia finished third in the league last season and had beaten Durham the last time the pair met in a best of five-set match. There was to be no repeat though, as Durham dominated the game.
The northerners took control in the opening set and produced a commanding performance to win it 25-16. Polonia fought back hard and performed better but could not quite notch a set on the scoreboard. Durham took the second set 25-23 and rounded off the win with a third set 25-21.
Anticipation looms for when Durham and Northumbria go head to head and it is not too long to wait. The sides will battle it out on the November 4. Before that though, both sides must overcome TeamBU Wessex if they want to remain unbeaten.
Wessex will be looking to respond after they were defeated by Pulsepoint London Orcas at the weekend. In a tight game, Orcas set the pace, winning the first set 25-21. Wessex bounced back in the second to get even taking the second 25-23. The third was always going to be important and it was an epic battle.
Orcas pinched it with a 29-27 victory. Any hopes of a remarkable comeback from Wessex were extinguished as Orcas closed out the match 25-22 in the final set.
Birmingham registered their first win of the season in fine style. The promoted side showed their intentions to stay at elite level by downing Tendring 3-1. The Brum ladies set the tone when they took the opening set to 19 points. When Tendring responded by edging the next set 26-24, the match would prove to test the Birmingham mettle.
They passed that test with flying colours, winning the next two to 19 and 21. An impressive performance against a Tendring side which finished mid-table last season.
Check out the Women's Super 8s league table here.