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NVL Super 8 : Only Polonia men make final
Posted by Douglas Barr-Hamilton on 2017/4/23 10:00:00 (173 reads)

Semi final matches (Men's and women’s Super8s - National Volleyball League)
Golden set for women
IBB Polonia will play Northumbria in the men's final and Northumbria play Durham in the women's to decide this year's English super-teams. Two of London's three semi-finalists went out.

In two legs over the past weekend (22/23rd April) IBB Polonia beat Wessex, Northumbria men beat Sheffield after losing the opening game with their women beating Pulsepoint Orcas while Durham needed a golden set to eliminate Sideout Polonia

IBB Polonia v Wessex
In London all interest was by Kew Bridge at Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre where IBB Polonia took on Wessex in one of the men's semi-finals. Considering the teams had finished third and fourth respectably in the league table, the Saturday game was rather disappointing. Both teams played a complicated system and nobody around me worked out exactly what they were doing although it was clear that they were working on their opponents' perceived weaknesses. I had better spend a little time studying the new FIVB coaching manual a link to which has been created on the site's home page.
Polonia played scrappily for the first few rallies going two points behind but raised their game at 4:3 before surging to 8:5 at the first technical time-out and took the set without needing to get out of second gear. The second set was scrappy from start to finish with volleyball varying from great to ghastly. In one spell the score went from 12:8 to 13:12 entirely on player errors but on the other hand Wessex's Oli Kimber produced a brilliant block on Olivier Raynaud and Daniel Hunter's serving late in the set forced a Polonia time-out when they closed to 23:21. For Polonia Robert Nicholson in the middle and Philip Smith and Marius Ciortea on the flanks attacked well from time to time with the hosts never looking in danger despite the closer score-line.
It was worth the trip to Brentford for the third set though. For Polonia fans it was at its best immediately after the first technical time-out when a brilliant recovery by Olivier was reached by setter, Odysseus Adam whose overhead pass enabled Marius to smash down the line before the Wessex blockers could get across to their left. Progress from 7:9 to 7:13 included three service aces from Bartosz Kisielwicz and suddenly even the supporters' drums sounded happy. In fact, Wessex recovered from the set-back and competed well for the rest of the excellent set and one has to feel for Andrea Ivanov who saved one match point blocking with Matt and then another with a great service ace but who then served long to end the match.
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It was worth the trip to Brentford for the match presentation too: an efficient ticketing system, a welcoming entrance to the venue, lively, if old fashioned, music during the warm-up, recognition of the crowd by the players and, supremely, the provision of sample cakes from club sponsor, the Polish Bakery in Wembley; mouth-watering Polish fudge, doughnuts and cakes served by folk in national dress turned a party atmosphere into a party with participants having a great time, especially the younger generation. 200 or so people will be back next season.

Next day. the teams started much as in the first leg with Wessex quick off the mark taking an early lead. IBB Polonia fought back but were always behind: 7:8 at the first technical time out and 11:16 at the second. They were not using the middle as well as they had in the first leg and eventually lost a set with a lot of errors 17:25. The second set was equally error strewn with Polonia behind 15:16 at the second technical time-out. Then their attack got going, allowing them to take the set 25:17, a 10:1 finish that clearly boosted confidence.
This set them up for the third set with Polonia leading from the start and easily taking it 25:19. Wessex were not finished though and fought hard in the fourth set, ahead 8:7 and 18:16 before Polonia again took control and won the set 25:21 and the match 3:1.
Wessex players Andrea Ivanov and Oli Kimber provided strong attacks and blocks in a better display by the visitors, while IBB Polonia were led by captain Marius Ciortea and outside hitter Olivier Raynaud, both scoring with powerful attacks.

150 spectators had a noisy, enjoyable afternoon and they were again fed with cakes by the Polish Bakery. The match was filmed for Polonia TV.

Later, the club said, "The winners of the Knockout Cup will not be resting on their laurels. Training starts again tonight and the next two weeks will be intense" with captain, Marius Ciortea adding, " We have in front of us the most important matches of the season. We have two weeks to prepare in training. We defended the Knockout Cup and we want to repeat this by defending our league title."

Club president, Bartek Luszcz. hopes everyone will support them: "We wish to invite all fans to Kettering. I am sure there will be some amazing volleyball to watch; lots of action and emotions on court! We guarantee the highest level of volleyball that is possible in the UK. The presence of Krzysztof Ignaczak, a current World Champion, is sure to bring hordes of volleyball aficionados to watch the legend in action. It will definitely be worth coming and joining in with our own loyal supporters to witness our journey to defend our title."

Finally, what of new signing, Krzysztof Ignaczak during the matches? After all the hype, he played as libero. Was the suggestion he would do anything else false news? He never stood out; he never did anything spectacular; he was not caught out of position; he never made a mistake. What more could a team want from its libero? For Wessex he was clearly a perceived strength in that they didn't serve on him, and he is already popular with the fans.
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Northumbria v Sheffield
Sheffield shocked Northumbria by winning in five sets on Saturday and forcing them to a tie-break in the fourth on Sunday before going down 26:24.

Northumbria v Pulsepoint Orcas
Northumbria are the league's "team to beat" and once again London players made a tremendous effort to better them, this time over two legs with both played away after a long journey to the North-east inevitably something of a handicap. However, they seemed to make light of it.
In Saturday's game they fought back twice from a set down to level the score before fading somewhat in the fifth while Sunday's match was in many ways a closer one although they lost in three.

Durham v Polonia Sideout
A very long and tiring weekend away for Polonia Ladies, who played eleven sets in two days, doing everything they could to try and reach that Super 8 final. Unfortunately, after two amazing five set games and an exciting golden set, Durham took it away and they will be the team playing on the 6th and 7th May in Kettering.
The first day, Polonia started off very strongly and confidently, showing they went all that way for a reason. They led the entire set and closed it 23:25. The second set saw Durham coming back strong, establishing their game really early in the set. They managed to come back from being led 17:20 and won the set 25:20. The third set was a very hard set for Polonia, that could not quite find a solution and was lost 25:10, leaving Durham with one set only to win to take away the first game of the semi finals. However, Polonia put all they had and played amazing volleyball in the fourth set, with very strong serving and defence. They won it 20:25, taking the game to an exciting fifth set. Durham started leading 9:2 in the tie break, which was decisive as Polonia could not do anything against their strong hitters and come back in the score. They lost it 15:5, which closed the game 3:2 in Durham’s favour.
The second day saw another game that was taken to a fifth set, meaning the teams had to play a sixth, golden set to decide who would go to the final. The first set had seen Durham leading 8:5 and keeping this advantage until the very end, where they closed 25:21. Polonia did not say their last word and came back very confidently and playing their heart and soul away, winning the second set 17:25. Same story for the third set, where Durham was overwhelmed by the positivity and chants from the Polonia players and staff and could not find a way though the set. It was in fact taken by Polonia 15:25. The fourth set of this second game saw Durham leading 15:9 and coming back proving they wanted this final as much as Polonia did. They kept their advantage and closed the set 25:18. The match was once again taken to a decisive set where Polonia made their life a bit easier by starting 0:7 up with their setter’s serving. They kept a very high level throughout the entire tie break with amazing defences by their libero and hits by their captain and middles, which brought them to close the set and game 15:6. The golden set had to be played and the teams were both very excited, but still maintaining their focus and will to win. It started off very evenly. Play by both sides was very cagey and Durham were 8-6 up changing ends.. They stretched their lead to 12-8 and despite Mark Kontopoulos using all his time outs, Polonia never recovered and eventually lost 15-9. The tie break had produced amazing plays and a very high standard of volleyball. The golden set and the dreams of the final for Polonia were over but even though they lost, the players were happy with their performance and have much to build on for next season.
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Gaia Canevari posted a message for all the team's fans, "This means it’s the end of the season for Polonia SideOut. Thank you for all the support we have had this season. We will come back even stronger next year and we hope you will all keep following and cheering for us! See you in September!"

The finals will be played at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering on 6th and 7th May

Results
Saturday
Women
Northumbria beat Pulsepoint Orcas 25:13 22:25 25:14 23:25 15:5
Durham beat Polonia Sideout 23:25 25:20 25:10 20:25 15:5

Men
Northumbria lost to Sheffield 25:21 23:25 27:25 21:25 9:15
IBB Polonia beat Wessex 25:17 25:23 25:18

Sunday
Women
Northumbria beat Pulsepoint Orcas 25:18 25:23 25:21
Durham lost to Polonia Sideout 25:21 17:25 15:25 25:18 6:15
- with the golden set won 15:9 by Durham

Men
Northumbria beat Sheffield 22:25 25:18 25:22 26:24
IBB Polonia beat Wessex 18:25 25:17 25:19 25:21

Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre, 22/23rd April

Additional material from Gaia Canevari, Charlie Orton and Katarzyna Strag.
Photographs, IBB Polonia and Sideout Polonia

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