Super 8s Round Up
22nd January 2017
Mens Super 8s
Saturday 21 January
Eagles made rather harder work than might have been anticipated in overcoming Super8's bottom side in three sets in Southampton but the home side played well, perhaps encouraged that a good performance against Northumbria's conquerors would be good for club morale.
The weekend (21/22 January) began with Docklands taking on third placed Sheffield. Earlier in the season Sheffield walked away with a comfortable 3-0 victory in the steel city and when they took the first set 25-11 it looked like it would be another easy day at the office for Keith Trenam’s side.
However, Docklands found some fight in set two, recovering from 11-6 down to tie the score at 13-13. With Jean Baptiste Arzounian pulling the strings Docklands hitters were gaining confidence and his French compatriots Mathieu Ras and Flavien Hias started to get success at the net. And with new father Andrew Pink back in the fold, his unpredictable serve took Docklands 16-14 ahead at the second enforced pause. Docklands made the critical break during a run of serves by Julian Marcon, as blocks by Ras and Tomek Wysocki saw Docklands take a 22-18 lead. With the experience of Kieran O’Malley now running Docklands’ offence, he was able to guide his side home to a 25-23 second set win against his former team.
Docklands maintained their momentum in set three and raced into an 8-3 lead. Sheffield managed to stem the flow of Docklands points with Cameron Carrington and Leon Chambers coming to the fore, but Docklands still led 16-14. Then the wheels came off the Docklands train as Chambers applied pressure from the service line and the hosts had no response. Errors crept back into Docklands’ game and Sheffield took the set at a canter 25-17.
Docklands had to knuckle down in set four and with the introduction of Francois Leroy gained some much needed fresh energy to their play. Docklands made the first significant break with the serving of Hias bamboozling the Sheffield passing unit and with pressure passed onto their hitters it was the turn of Sheffield to make the errors. Hias put the final nail in the coffin to seal the set 25-18 with a smash over the block.
As ever a good start in the lottery of the shortened fifth set is crucial and on this occasion it was Sheffield who took advantage of some slack Docklands’ play to lead 8-2 at the change of ends. It’s rare for a team to come back from that sort of deficit and Sheffield made hay, eventually taking the set 15-7. However, the one point earned by Docklands could still prove critical in the shake-up at the end of the season and Docklands had an immediate chance to secure more points on Sunday at Wessex.
Black Knight: Mathieu Ras
Docklands MVP: Mathieu Ras
Sheffield MVP: Cameron Carrington
Sunday 22 January
Once again IBB Polonia London proved too strong for Solent. Sunday 22nd January 2017 the team from London travelled to Southampton and won 0:3 (22:25, 17:25, 18:25) and returned to the capital with another three points.
– We had total control of the game today. We had the luxury of allowing each player to play and played with confidence, which is pleasing leading up to the next European Challenge event and Cup match in England. The festive break caused some changes to the league table with every club in the top section losing points except us. This is obviously a positive sign for us, that we managed to maintain our form. – commented Piotr Graban Head Coach for IBB Polonia London.
In the coming weekend the matches for IBB Polonia London are taking place in the capital city. On Saturday 28th January the match is against Lynx in the English Knockout Cup. The match will take place in University of East London Sportshall. Following on from that every volleyball fan in the country will be interested in the match taking place on 1st February at 7pm in Crystal Palace: the traditional home of volleyball in this country. The return match of the CEV Challenge Cup against the team from Holland: Draisma Dynamo Apeldoorn; the match takes the victors through to the quarter finals of the competition.
– We are excited about the home leg of the match. We know what to expect and the way that the opponent plays. The coaches will have done their homework and will prepare us fully for the encounter. We are counting on a strong home support to ensure that the atmosphere is even louder than in Apeldoorn; the fans will help lift us to perform even better than we did in the Netherlands. – said Bartosz Kisielewicz, setter for IBB Polonia London.
Tickets for the home game for IBB Polonia London for 1/8 round of the CEV Challenge Cup are available on https://polonia.eventbrite.co.uk/.
Despite the arctic conditions of Wessex's old hall, Docklands warmed to the occasion of this critical fixture after the gruelling five-set loss to high flying Sheffield the previous day. Showing flashes of the form that has made Docklands one of the trickier opponents in the past few Super8s seasons, Hopper's side stormed out of the gates and put Wessex under severe pressure when opening up a healthy lead at the first technical time-out.
The lead would grow to a seemingly unassailable 18-12 through crafty serving from Hias and the vital attacks of Ras. However, and in a scenario that is becoming sickening familiar, Wessex had Docklands stuck in a rotation and began to chip away at the deficit. Time-outs and a change in reception proved futile as Wessex built momentum on the back of Andrea Ivanov's exemplary transition attack scoring. With the wind in their sails, Wessex completed a remarkable comeback to claim the first set 26-24.
Now in a dogfight when an easy victory seemed on the cards, Docklands struggled to emulate their play of the first set that had left Wessex stunned. Typically assured play from Pink, who first played for the club a decade ago, kept the visitors close but Dan Hunter's team were always a few points ahead. There was little answer to Ivanov as the Bulgarian poured on the points and Wessex closed out a hotly contested yet all too comfortable second set 25-22.
Fatigue began to tell on Docklands, who were able to name just nine players for this weekend's double header, and the third set was never really in doubt. Opposite Miguel Espinosa and his counterpart Ivanov took their chances early in the set as Wessex built a commanding 14-7 lead. Stand-in opposite O'Malley was unable to match Espinosa and despite a slight narrowing in score line, Wessex closed out the match 25-18 and with it the three points.
Pink commented afterwards, "A tough weekend but we can learn lessons from it and make improvements, particularly our blocking and still make an impact this season". Hopper added, "A somewhat frustrating weekend but some bright spots and as Pink says, plenty to work on but a lot to be positive about. The season is still in our hands and we have the games in hand to move up the table".
Docklands now have three weeks until their next fixture against fellow strugglers Solent which is set to be a true relegation six-pointer.
Black Knight: Marcel Sivak
Docklands MVP: Andrew Pink
Wessex MVP: Andrea Ivanov
Lynx went one better than Docklands during Sheffield's week-end in London, battling through five tough sets to take the victory.
Womens Super 8s
Saturday 21 January
On Saturday Team South Wales (TSW) faced Surrey Orcas in the return league match at University of South Wales Sport Park. In the first league match at the Orcas venue, an injury-ridden TSW pressured the home team till the end although the results ended 3-1 in the home team’s favour. This time TSW Coach Castro and team faced this challenging match with a slightly larger squad although 25% were still out with injuries. Nevertheless, TSW had a clear game plan and were aiming for a win.
TSW settled into the first set lead by Captain Marinka van Bergen with Ane-Marte Bye in the setter position and regular setter Sofia Santos, who was also carrying a calf injury, in the libero position. The first set also saw the Super 8s debut for Nia Baker, recently returned to TSW from New Zealand who played off-setter. Just after the first technical time out, however, disaster struck for TSW and setter Ane Marte Bye as she ripped her Achilles tendon. Having a reduced squad and already having committed Sofia Santos to the libero position, Coach Castro reorganised his team to have regular wing player Mara Mata setting instead. Since the setter position can be likened to the conductor of an orchestra position, this constituted a substantial change for TSW and required reorganisation in each rotation. However, Mara Mata adjusted well and set both wing and middle players comfortably. Ane Marte Bye’s injury did however shake TSW enough to let go of the set 15-25.
In the second and third sets Coach Castro started the team out in their regular rotation and this meant another debut for TSW: Junior player Tina Gillespy started on the wing and performed very well in her first Super 8s game. However, as a whole TSW struggled to assert themselves in the game and made a number of errors, not least in service, which precluded their scoring points. The third set saw moments of their usual high level of play which put the Orcas under pressure, but these very too infrequent to contest the outcome of the game which ended 3-0 to Surrey Orcas.
TSW still have 6 Super 8s league games left and are currently in 7th position, which is the play-off position against the runner-up from division 1. The next Super 8s game is a key game against Salford, currently in 8th, relegation position, and takes place at home at University of South Wales Sport Park in Treforest on Saturday 4 February at 13.30. This is a must-win game that TSW are already preparing for. Before this game, however, TSW meet England Juniors in the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering on 28 January in the Challenger Series. TSW are sponsored by CM Utilities Ltd, and also run a youth section, and welcome new players. Contact can be made via teamsouthwales.wix.com/volleyball. Action photos by GlennSports.
Sunday 22 January
On Saturday the 22nd of January the Polonia ladies took on Tendring in their first home game of 2017! It was an exciting game with a lot of crowd that saw the home team winning and assuring their third place in the Super 8 League.
The first set was won 25-16 by Polonia SideOut that started off very confidently and managed to put in a hard situation the main hitter of the opponent team by serving and defending very well. They started by leading 8-6 and went up 13-6 straight away. They kept that advantage until the end and they did not allow Tendring to have a shot at taking the set.
The second set saw a slightly more relaxed home team and their opponents trying to prove they could put them in a difficult situation. The score was closer than the previous set for the entire set, with Polonia being ahead all the time. With determination and a strong defense/cover, Polonia managed to take the second set 25-21.
The third set was a fought one: Tendring’s side came back very strong and decided it was not time to close the game yet. They went off a good start by leading 8-3 in the first technical timeout and leading 16-12 at the second one. The end of the set was breath taking for all the crowd watching the game, and it was closed 25-18 with a strong hit.
In the fourth set, Polonia came back as strong and as confident as the first set and decided to close the game 3-1 by leading the entire set and showing a faster game to try and beat the strong Tendring block. The set and game was closed 25-20.