Super League splits in two
17th December 2018
The Volleyball England Super League has reached its halfway stage and will see the top divisions in the men’s and women’s game split into two sections.
With each team having played each other once, the top five in each division will play each other twice to battle it out for the title, as well as second to fifth place.
While the teams in the lower tiers will battle it out to stay off the bottom as they fight it out for the sixth to ninth positions.
The format will see similarly matched teams facing each other more often so there should be lots of tight and excting contests in the second half of the season! The teams will continue with the points they have already scored in the league so the teams who performed well in the first part of the season will have the initiative.
Last weekend saw the final matches of the first round of Super League fixtures and the line-ups in each section are complete…
Men’s Super League
With each team having played each other once, the top five of IBB Polonia London, Durham Palatinates, TeamBU Wessex, Sheffield Hallam and Team Essex Blaze will play each other twice as they battle it out for the top five spots.
The bottom half of Richmond Docklands, Malory Eagles UEL, Southampton Volleyball Club and Newcastle Staffs will fight it out for sixth to ninth positions.
In the top section, IBB Polonia will go into new year as favourites as they finished the first half with eight straight victories. They laid down a marker this month as they faced second placed Durham Palatinates. It was a superb match that saw momentum swing between the sides with Polonia edging to victory 15-10 in the fifth.
Following promotion last season, Durham have been a surprise package so far and notched two more wins in December to secure second spot and will relish more battles against the other top quality sides. Wessex currently lie third having only lost to Polonia, Durham and Sheffield Hallam. The men from Sheffield have had a couple of surprising results but having beat Durham last month underlined their quality to compete with the best and sit in fourth. Team Essex Blaze defeated Malory Eagles this month to ensure they took fifth spot.
In the bottom section, Richmond Docklands head the pack after just missing out on making the top section after defeats this month to Malory and Durham. In seventh, Malory are just once place below and should battle Richmond hard to take sixth position, after beating Docklands in a five setter this month.
Southampton and Newcastle Staffs are level at the bottom with three points. Southampton climbed off the bottom of the league by beating Staffs in straight sets this month to get a much-needed confidence boost. Both sides will have plenty of opportunities to pick up more points in second half of the season with more competitive matches. All four teams in the lower tier will be eager to avoid propping up the pack, as the team that finishes bottom will face the prospect of a relegation/promotion playoff against the team that finishes second in Division 1.
Women’s Super League
This month saw a shootout for the final spot in the top section of the league as TeamBU Wessex and Sheffield Hallam faced off in the second week of December. The previous week Wessex had lost while Hallam won, to give the ladies from the steel city chance to nick the fifth spot. It was Wessex who took control and ran out 3-1 winners to secure their spot in the top section.
With a 3-1 win over Wessex the previous week, Malory had already confirmed they would be in the top half and they finished the first half of the season in fourth, level on points with Orcas who finished third. Orcas registered an expected victory over Birmingham this month to lie third, having only lost to the top two sides and should be a force in the top section in the second half of the season.
At the top, Tendring managed to stay in touch with the leaders Durham and are only four points behind in second. They looked like slipping to an unlikely defeated last weekend as Tendring were two sets down to Wessex. The Tendring ladies emphasised their quality by finding another gear and overpowered Wessex winning the next three sets to 17, 13 and 12 points in the decider.
In pole position is Durham Palatinates. They only had one game left this month and swept aside third-placed London Orcas in straight sets. The reigning champions have continued to be the dominant force in women’s volleyball and have won all eight of their matches so far, only dropping three sets so far. They will be heavy favourites to retain the title going into the new year, although their rivals in the top section will want to push them hard.
In the bottom section, while Sheffield Hallam sit sixth after being edged out of the top half, the three bottom sides are closely matched. Bristol lie seventh on four points, while Birmingham and Polonia SideOut London are in the bottom two on three points, with the ladies from the second city just edging ahead having won more sets.
Birmingham beat Bristol earlier this month to climb off the bottom and the battle to avoid the relegation playoff match should be fierce and exciting.
Super League action will return in January with the team battling it out in their sections. Each team will keep the points they’ve already earned as they battle it out for the final league positions. The fixtures for the next stage of the competition have been sent to the competing teams and will be published shortly.