Heavyweights reach the National Cup Finals
26th February 2018
IBB Polonia London and Team Northumbria will face off in the final of the men’s National Cup at the National Volleyball Centre in April.
They both booked their places in the final at the weekend after beating TeamBU Wessex and Sheffield Hallam respectively, setting up a mouth-watering tie between the current top two sides in the men’s Super 8 division.
It was double joy for Northumbria at the weekend as their women’s team matched the achievements of their male counterparts by achieving their place in the women’s National Cup Final. They will battle their nearest rivals Team Durham, as the two north east titans of women’s volleyball compete to land the trophy in English volleyball’s premier knockout competition.
Reigning champions Northumbria ensured their final berth by winning in straight sets to overcome Polonia SideOut London. While Durham eventually won a thrilling five-set match against Pulsepoint London Orcas to seal their spot.
As in the men’s Cup, the women’s final will also feature the current top two sides from the women’s Super 8s so both finals promise to be enthralling encounters. There is sure to be a packed crowd and tickets for the National Cup Finals on Saturday 14 April are already on sale at a discount price.
Men’s Cup semi finals
Having come through a straight sets win against the Durham men’s team in the quarter final, Northumbria faced third-placed Sheffield Hallam with a cup final place on offer for the victors. Despite the scoreline, Sheffield Hallam put up a spirited fight narrowly losing the first and third sets, with the second set being a more comprehensive defeat 25-13.
In the aftermath of this victory Northumbria’s coach, David Goodchild pointed to a key moment in the match which set up the victory: “After the first set – when Sheffield were 24-21 up – we just broke them. We kept them to 13 in the second set which, for a side of their quality, is incredible.”
“Almost everything that we did worked and it was just one of those special days. They lost confidence and we went the other way.”
In the other semi-final, TeamBU Wessex had beaten IBB Polonia London earlier in the season, but it was the London team who continued their recent run of form and were victorious in the National Cup semi-final. Polonia won their semi-final in style and relatively comfortably, beating their opponents 25-19, 25-16, 25-11. Polonia’s libero Marcel Sivak praised the support his team received in his post-match interview and said it helped them to yet another final, as they hope to defend the trophy they won last year: “The support and the atmosphere were incredible and urged us on. We are very grateful for the energy they expend in pushing us through tough points”.
Both sides will be optimistic about taking home the National Cup with Northumbria’s coach David Goodchild final declaring “if we play to the best of our ability then we can win every game.” While as reigning champions, Sivak hopes his team’s experience can give them the edge. He said: “Northumbria is a strong opponent and they have been performing very convincingly. We are, however, a more experienced team, including experience from playing in finals, which adds to our advantage.”
Women’s Cup semi finals
The Northumbria women’s team continued their rich vein of form, which sees them currently sit top of the women’s Super 8s, by beating Polonia SideOut London in straight sets to book their place in this year’s National Cup Final.
An upset never looked possible as Northumbria took control of the match winning the first set 25-12. Polonia rallied but they couldn’t force a set win and lost the second and third sets by the same scoreline of 25-22. Northumbria coach David Goodchild praised Leah Best and Samantha Cash after they helped the team to victory, despite not being fully fit. He said: “They both had a fever and probably shouldn’t have played but massive credit to them for being out there and putting their bodies on the line.”
Goodchild said facing Durham in the final will be a difficult prospect but one he is sure his players can overcome: “Durham are certainly a good team and they’ve got their star player back again. If we play as well as we can, then of course we can win the cup.”
Meanwhile, Northumbria’s north east rivals Durham played out a scintillating semi-final against Pulsepoint London Orcas, with Durham getting over the line after five dramatic sets. The games momentum swung from one team to another as it had back in December when the two sides met and Durham also squeezed home in five sets.
Durham had lead 1-0 and 2-1 but Orcas managed to keep pegging them back. The final set decider was also a fierce battle but Durham forced the win to secure the final spot to take the match (25-23, 24-26, 25-19, 25-13, 15-12).
Despite trailing Northumbria in the league, Durham will believe they can land the trophy in Kettering on the biggest stage after showing their potential last year. Durham are the current English League Champions after defeating Northumbria in last season’s Super 8s playoff final to end their five-year reign as champions.
The men’s and womens’s National Cup finals will take place on Saturday 14 April at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering. It is guaranteed to be a showcase high class and intensively competitive volleyball. Make sure you’re there to witness it by booking your tickets – at a reduced price – now.
Feature written by Peter Collindridge