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Agony and ecstasy for England at NEVZA U19 Champs

29th October 2017

Agony and ecstasy for England at NEVZA U19 Champs

England Men took their first NEVZA medal since 2014 with a bronze medal win against the tough Norwegian side. The England boys meant business and piled the pressure on from the start, before taking the match and medal home after a 3-0 victory.

The first set was nip and tuck the whole way as each team traded points from the service line. At the business end of the set, it was England opposite Jack Williams as the go to man, saving England two set points. However, it was Youth Commonwealth Champion, Joaquin Bello, who closed the set with a roof block through the outside, taking the set 28-26.

England started the second set with confidence building a three-point lead by the first technical time-out after strong hitting from Williams putting the pressure on the Norwegian defence. Unforced errors from Norway allowed England to extend their lead to nine points. The Norwegians struggled in serve receive, eventually conceding the set 25-15.

Norway came out strong with Elvind Hettervik, building a two-point lead from the service line. But, Norway had no answer for the blocking wall England posed against their attack. England soon took control of the set and ran away victorious with a 25-18 win.

Head Coach, Darren Lewis, said "I feel overwhelmed. The first set was so important for our confidence and we established ourselves well. I’m still in a bit of a daze because the next two sets were comfortable for us. I think it helped that we played tough teams in the pools with Denmark and Sweden whose serving was very tough. Today it wasn’t as tough for us so we could sure our middle a lot which is a big part of our game plan. Norway are a verry strong side and we beat them with quality volleyball which is so nice to see from an English side."

On preparing for the match, Darren said: "We use DataVolley a lot, we have for a while now so we knew their strengths and their weaknesses, serving, blocking, we knew everything. We knew what they were going to do, we stuck to our game plan and they boys pulled it off."

In their bronze medal match, England's women put in a fantastic performance but lost in a five set thriller against Norway, in one of the matches of the tournament.

England started the first set in a confident mood and were superb in defence, digging out balls and in particular, Ellie Austin and Georgia McGovern blocking well. England were managing to restrict Norway scoring and keep Norwegian captain Renate Bjerland’s powerful hitting at bay. It meant England could respond with aggressive play of their own and Anna Keefe’s ferocious hitting was doing damage. Once they got ahead, England never relented and closed out the first set to 19 points.

Norway levelled the match after an epic second set. After Norway established a five-point lead, a run of superb serving from Niamh Davies got England back into the set. The teams traded points as England edged in front at the business end of the set. Norway though refused to be beaten. Tuva Aarrestad continued to hit well and they overturned a deficit to edge the second set 29-27.

Instead of being deflated, England got straight back to their game plan. They continued to defend well and go for their hits. Once England established a comfortable lead, they didn’t let it slip and took a 2-1 lead.

Despite a slow start, Norway came back in the fourth. Kaya Elise Woie was serving well and Bjerland was the Norway go to hitter. Norway forced a decider as they took the second set.

The Norwegians took the momentum in the fifth set and got into an early lead. Bjerland was lethal with her hitting again and England’s workrate to keep the ball alive was phenomenal. Norway went on a run of points with Kaya Elise Woie serving brilliantly and took the set 15-6.

Though they came up just short, England can be immensely proud of how they have performed and progressed over the tournament.

Agony and ecstasy for England at NEVZA U19 Champs