England teams to battle for bronze at the NEVZA U19 Champs
28th October 2017
England's men and women will be aiming for bronze medals after both produced heartening performances in their semi-final defeats.
After comfortably defeating the Faroe Islands in the quarter finals this morning, England men faced Sweden in the first semi-final. A tense opening saw the sides trade early points as England matched a quality Swedish team. Jack Williams and Joe Palombo got their power hitting going but it was Sweden who found another level. Daniel Gruvaeus was particularly impressive as Sweden began to outscore England. The England men hustled hard but couldn't keep up as Sweden took the first set 25-19.
Losing the first set seemed to dent England's self-belief and Sweden took full advantage in the second set. They romped into an 8-0 lead at the first time out. Sweden restricted England’s attacking intent as their block was working superbly. Thor Gustav and Joar Millberg in particular creating a wall at the top of the net. England fought back but the damage was done and Sweden took the second set 25-11.
England rallied in the third set and stepped it up to match their opponents. However, when England turned up the heat, Sweden responded with some expert defensive work, underlined by libero Joel Andersson who dug out balls against some very strong hitting. Sweden were not to be denied though and took a brilliant victory in the final set (25-22) to reach the gold medal game.
The England men will now have every chance of a medal as they do battle for bronze against Norway tomorrow at 12pm. Norway will be familiar foes as England played them in a pre-tournament scrimmage.
It's a bronze medal play-off for England's women too after they lost in straight sets (25-21, 25-18, 25-15) to Denmark in their semi-final. The women have improved throughout this tournament and beat Faroe Islands in the quarter finals to reach this stage. Against Denmark they showed their new found level of composure and aggression to give the tournament favourites a real run for their money.
From a four-point deficit in the first set, England came back into the match at 18-18 with brilliant cross court hitting from opposite, Leah Blight, bringing them back into the match. Nerves got the better of the England though with unforced errors creeping in towards the end of the set allowing Denmark to capitalise and take the set 25-21.
England started the second set with conviction, and put pressure on the Danish side with hitting from Ellie Austin. Denmark rallied back and put the passing unit under stress to pull away and take the set 25-18.
The third set was controlled by Denmark with outstanding serving from Sophia Jensen building up a twelve-point lead. England fought hard to pull themselves back in the match but couldn’t muster enough points to put the Danish under pressure, eventually conceding 25-15.
Playing at 12pm, England women will also take on Norway in their search for bronze.
Both teams can be proud of their performances today and should take the experience in their search for a bronze medal tomorrow. If either sides could achieve that, it would represent a brilliant tournament for them.