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NVL Super 8 : Polonia reverse Eagles' ascent
Posted by Douglas Barr-Hamilton on 2017/12/18 12:00:00 (158 reads)

London matches (Men's and women’s Super8 - National Volleyball League)
Orcas scare Durham
The IBB Polonia come back is under way. In a very close match they reversed the result of their home fixture against the same opponents two weeks ago (1st December). In nine sets, Malory scored 201 points to Polonia's 197. What a match if they are successful in their quarter-final Cup matches on 27th January as they will meet again at Kew on 24th February in the semi!

After sharing the first two rallies, Malory enjoyed a slight edge for most of the first set until caught at 16:all, with Polonia pulling away only after 21:all. Polonia started the second the better but were caught at 11:all from which stage neither side led by more than a single point up to set point when a Polonia attack clipped the net and wrong-footed the home defence. The third was equally close with Polonia enjoying a tiny lead for most of the set but Malory caught them at 20:all and held on to earn the additional set they richly deserved. Into the fourth and play continued in the same vein to 10:all when Polonia seemed to move up a gear and gained a15:19 lead. The hosts then raised their game and forced a time-out at 19:18 before a pulsating spell took them to 23:all.
Only early in the first set when Malory led by three points, early in the second when Polonia's advantage was also three and once in the third when Polonia moved to 7:10 had the margin between the sides been more than two points so Eagles' recovery looked as though it might bring another Houdini act. They've done it so often this season. That, or the report was going to sound like a fairy story. But a massive block on the right by Bartosz Kisielewicz and Phil Smith stunned the home players and silenced the home crowd. Reality restored; it was to be Polonia's day.
“We approached the match with the recent 2:3 loss still fresh in our mind, said Polonia Director of volleyball, Chris Hykiel, "Malory Eagles previously had played a simple strategy, throwing the majority of balls to ex- IBB Polonia London VC player Mihail Stoev, who was on spectacular form and was unstoppable for the majority of that game. This time we had a much more effective block defence arranged working off a specific serving strategy to eliminate this issue. Malory Eagles, as a result, had to utilise both outside hitters and their opposite more evenly. The victory was led by the recent return to the squad of talisman and triple League winner Bartosz Kisielewicz who set almost faultlessly all match. We have the entire squad to thank who trained at a level higher recently under the watchful eyes of Piotr Graban and Patrik Selep who together constructed a solid game plan. I would like to thank everyone for their focus to attention in the last two weeks and also to our faithful fans who banged their drums relentlessly
The victory was celebrated by the champions and their fans who dined together following the match. It was a great opportunity to exchange Christmas wishes and to look forward to a well-earned rest over the festive period.
In our article at the beginning of last week we asked for at least 50 spectators. The response was excellent and the figure was much nearer seventy - that's the number, not average age. The average age was quite low thanks to a couple of babies wearing the latest volleyball accessory: ear-protectors to dampen the noise of Polonia's supporters. There were a number of over fifty former players among the rest of the crowd: good to see, lovely to meet again and encouraging that London's best volleyball is a worth-while visit ten days before Christmas.

The match started a little late because Malory's women struggled in a rather poor match to overcoming their visitors from Bristol eventually overcoming them 20:25 19:25 25:20 25:22 15:12. As a result of playing fewer games than other teams, they go into the winter break in the bottom half of the table, with a better points difference than two other team that are equal on points.

Meanwhile, over in Richmond the home side was sliding to defeat against Sheffield. The Yorkshire club had been one place below them in the league table. Now they are three above, so competitive is the middle of the table this year. Richmond Docklands ended 2017 with a hard fought 1:3 loss against last year’s Super8s runners-up, Sheffield. Playing at their training venue Christ's School, Richmond Docklands were hoping for an early Christmas present but despite playing some of their best volleyball of the last couple of months, they ended the year empty handed.
Captain Andrew Pink summed up his feelings afterwards, “I’m naturally disappointed with the loss but ultimately we can honestly say that we played a #edit required# of a lot better than we did in our last two matches. If we’d played this well against Malory and Essex we’d have won at least one of those games. It’s frustrating but I think we can go into the Christmas break in a more confident mood and look forward to more victories early in the New Year”.
Sheffield have had an up and down season, losing away ties against recent successful teams like Northumbria and Polonia whilst also struggling to overcome Newcastle Staffs in the Cup. However, Keith Trenam's team had brushed aside both Wessex and Team Essex and started the day as favourites. On the evidence of the first set this tag was clearly justified as they dominated play, comfortably taking the set 18:25.
Richmond Docklands switched their serving strategy and started to grow in confidence in set two, buoyed on by a healthy home crowd sat in close proximity to the court. It was Docklands who made the first substantial break, helped by blocks from Vuk Kosanovic and Javier Bello, to lead 11:7. Julian Marcon began to show the sort of form he’s been producing in training, taking the game to Sheffield and having great success at the net. His energy was transmitted to the rest of his team and Sheffield had no answer. Richmond Docklands won their first set in three matches to grab a foothold back in the match.
The home side maintained their momentum into the third set and started to go toe-to-toe with Trenam’s team. Richmond Docklands coach Luis Bello encouraged his players to keep going for their shots and take on the Sheffield block. His charges started to follow his advice and managed to turn a 5:8 deficit into a 16:14 lead. But despite some valiant defence by libero Matteo Veggian, the set started to drift the way of Sheffield. Another serving run by Matt Howe gave Sheffield some breathing space and they closed out the set 22:25.
Joaquin Bello had made his first start of the season and the 17-year old produced an assured performance, showing his great promise. His hitting radar started to fail him in the third set and former GB star Pink replaced him in set four. Pink made an immediate impact and despatched a number of killer blows to keep his side in the hunt. The set was finely balanced at 14:15 when Docklands failed to deal with a Howe serve that caught the net. Sheffield then came out of the second technical time-out with more authority and were suddenly 15:20 ahead and the game was slipping away from the home side. Docklands managed to close the gap to three points but it was too late and Sheffield travelled back up north with three points.
Richmond Docklands return to Super8s action on Saturday 13th January at Kingston Arena against London Lynx. That will be the first of three home matches in the space of eight days that will go a long way to determining how successful Docklands’ season ends up being. Julian Marcon was chosen as Black Knight, Vuk Kosanovic as Docklands MVP and Matt Howe as Sheffield MVP

On Sunday Orcas faced high-flying Durham who had lost only one Super8 match all season and came very close indeed to beating them. Over five tense sets they scored just one point fewer and showed once again that they are the team any claimant for the title needs to beat. They will make the end-of-season play off matches very competitive indeed.

Results
Saturday
Men
Richmond Docklands lost to Sheffield Hallam, 18:25 25:23 22:25 21:25
Malory Eagles lost to IBB Polonia, 23:25 23:25 25:22 23:25

Sunday
Women
Pulsepoint Orcas lost to Durham, 23:25 28:26 25:20 23:25 11:15

Caius House Youth Centre, Christ's School, Ernest Bevin College,16 and 17th December

With thanks for contributions from Andy Hopper, Charlie Orton and Katarzyna Strag.

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