NEVZA U19 Day one: England finish second in the pools
26th October 2018
Team England have made a solid start to the NEVZA Under 19 Championships after the opening day’s play at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering.
Hosts for a third year running, Team England’s men and women each won one of their two pool matches and ensured a more favourable quarter finals draw as the tournament reaches the knockout stages tomorrow.
Team England’s women showed superb resilience and character to twice come from behind to beat Iceland. After being edged out of the first set 25-22, the ladies responded brilliantly to romp home in the next set to just 12 points. The momentum then swung back Iceland’s way and it was they who took the initiative and third set. Team England did not surrender though and played some of their best volleyball when it really mattered to win the fourth set 25-18.
With the home crowd roaring them on, England showed no signs of letting up this time and Paul Welsh’s side took the decider 15-10.
In their pool of three, England’s other opponents were Denmark. Now the Scandinavians are a quality side and underlined their championship credentials winning in straight sets. There were glimpses of what England can really do in the match though. They pushed Denmark, particularly in the first set when they lost with 23 points.
They will face the Faroe Islands in the quarter finals tomorrow and will be confident of advancing to the semi finals. If they do and they can reach their top level more often in matches, there is no reason they could not challenge for a medal.
In their opening game, Team England men swept aside Iceland with a very assured display, winning in straight sets (25-18, 25-13, 25-16). Head coach got chance to shuffle his pack and share game time around the squad.
Despite being defeated, it was their second pool match against Denmark which was the real barometer for where this England team is at. The Danes are an excellent side with powerful hitting and penetrating serves. England looked a little on edge to begin with as they lost the first set. But once they settled in, they looked more confident in their own ability to beat top class opposition.
Team England levelled the match by taking the next set and by the third set, this was already looking like one of the best matches of the tournament so far. It was a nail biting third set which went the distance but it was the Danes who edged it 27-25.
Head coach Darren Lewis was clear in his team talk before the fourth set, competing was not enough. If England played the right way and with the right mentality, they could win this match. His words must have hit home as England trailed for long periods but became more and more aggressive in their play and reached 24 points first. Denmark were not far behind and levelled it so it went to the two points required stage.
England had the first couple of set points but couldn’t get over the line. Then a few tights calls didn’t go their way and Denmark eventually won the set 29-27 to take the match.
It may not have been the result they wanted, but England will take a lot of confidence from the performance. They were in the ascendency in the fourth and would have very much fancied their chances in the fifth set. Denmark will be one of the favourites to win the competition so England display with give them belief that they can reach a first final.
They will face Faroe Islands in the quarter finals tomorrow morning, for the right to play Sweden in the semi final.
Full knockout stages draw - Saturday
Match B7 - QF1: England vs Faroe Islands
Match B8 - QF2: Norway vs Iceland
Match B9 - SF1: Sweden vs Winner QF1
Match B10 - SF2: Denmark vs Winner QF2
Match B7 - QF1: Norway vs Iceland
Match B8 - QF2: England vs Faroe Islands
Match B9 - SF1: Denmark vs Winner QF1
Match B10 - SF2: Sweden vs Winner QF2