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London Volleyball : Aces successful in seniors
Posted by Media Team on 2018/4/15 20:40:00 (137 reads)

London matches (Men's and women’s National Volleyball Cups and Shield)
Three Richmond wins in juniors
IBB Polonia were aiming to make it three cup wins in a row. Aces' target was to regain their growing reputation at volleyball's national level. Polonia IMKA were determined to show the country the strength of London's Premier Division. Richmond and EBC Greenhouse set out to demonstrate the improvement in the city's junior volleyball, especially in Richmond with a team in each of the four junior finals. The teams were in Kettering for National Finals week-end.

The two Shield matches were played at the same time on adjacent courts.

It was North v South in the Women's Shield. IMKA who play in our Women's Premier Division and are currently fourth in the league table although, with a match in hand, could well finish the season third. Sheffield are leading in the first division of the women's National League although, having played more games, look likely to finish behind Malory Eagles at the end of the competition. Well, Sheffield won but IMKA bolstered not only their own reputation but that of women's volleyball in London. It could hardly have been closer. IMKA won sets one and four showing both their ability and their character and the 13:15 fifth set illustrated just how close their standard is to the one of the best teams in the country.

Aces took on Polska Manchester, or Polska Przychodnia Intervolley Manchester to give the team its full title, in the Men's Shield final. After dominating the NVL first division last year and earning promotion, Aces have had a mixed 2017/18 season and look like finishing in the bottom half of the league table. They were also knocked out of the Cup by UK Armed Forces but maintained a good Shield run beating Tendring, the other division two leaders, in the semi final. Polska Manchester are top of men's division two (North) of the NVL though it looks likely that they will be pipped by Sunderland who have two games in hand. In this final Aces took control of the game early on an won the first two sets, if not easily, without looking threatened. The third set after winning two is always a dangerous situation in volleyball and Polska kept themselves in this one, playing very well and keeping Aces in check eventually winning after a series of set points earned by each side. Thrilling stuff. The fourth set after losing the third is always a volleyball challenge and Aces met it perfectly, got themselves a lead and kept it. A thoroughly deserved win and, equally deservedly, Aces' captain, Russell Watson was named most valuable player.

The women's Cup Final preceded the men's and featured the teams that are first and second in the women's Super8 table at the end of the league season, separated by one loss to two. Top of the table Northumbria beat to Durham in four sets.

Northumbria men won the league section of their Super8 season by a full eleven points over IBB Polonia in second place and looked firm favourites but the Londoners enjoyed a much more successful second half to their season and, as Cup winners for the past two years, approached the men's Cup Final with determination and confidence. They started accordingly in this year's match and enjoyed an early first set lead but Northumbria battled back to level the score mid-way through the set and went on to shade it. In the second, Northumbria looked the more assured although there was nothing between the sides and the set ended with exactly the same score. So to the third which followed a similar pattern with both sides striving for every point. Towards the end it looked as though Northumbria had the edge but the Londoners saved match point after match point until 25:26 when their northern rival seized the trophy.

Polonia saw the match as follows:
The final of the National Cup was a very tight and even tussle and the team had to relinquish the title to the northerners. The match was lost in straight sets 3:0 (25:23; 25:23; 27:25) and so the trophy that had found a comfortable home in the hands of IBB Polonia London had to make the journey to Newcastle.
The match saw a very level performance between both teams, but the start of each set saw IBB Polonia London the more dominant on each occasion. At each of the three first technical time outs, a strong lead had been developed, but the pattern developed each set and the team from Newcastle managed to pull back their deficit and overhaul IBB Polonia London just before the end of the set. The MVP trophy was awarded to Adam Bradbury from Newcastle.
“The game was very even, but in the end of each set Northumbria improved their standard just enough to take the sets." commented IBB Polonia London captain, Bartosz Kisielewicz.
“We played good volleyball, but in each set we made one or two errors that caused us the loss. I think they came as a result of the pressure of the match, and a lack of experience at that level. Our opponents played very steadily and served very well; this made the difference." said Head Coach Piotr Graban.
The match contained many amazing exchanges and the spectacle was super exciting for the fans that had travelled north to Kettering from London.
“The sportshall was full of volleyball fans; the vast majority proudly sported the match shirts of Polonia. We really thank them very much for their amazing support as usual." added Kisielewicz.
The match is not the end of the season. The Super 8 division is still to be decided, and the Semi Finals are being played against Sheffield Hallam.
“The atmosphere isn't amazing, but this is normal after an unexpected defeat. More importantly, the guys want to fight and we started training as of Monday in order to prepare for the Semi Finals. I am hopeful we will beat Sheffield Hallam, which will give us the chance to beat Team Northumbria in the finals.” ended Kisielewicz.
"We are fighting hard in training. We want to win the Semi Finals, to sort out a few small details and take revenge over Newcastle in the finals of England." concluded Graban.


Tameside has produced generation after generation of good girl and woman volleyball players and it was good to see them featuring in more finals next day. Indeed, if it were not for them, it could have been an all London day with Richmond providing competition in all four finals: Tameside in the girls' and women's and EBC Greenhouse the boys' and men's. The boys and girls played at the same time followed by the men and women also playing at the same side and splitting the Richmond support of course.

In the under 16 girls Richmond played Tameside and found a formidable opponent. They began strongly and played a sound tactical game limiting Aurelia Braguglia's opportunities to feature in the attack. So, in a cacophony of noise from both set of spectators, they managed to hold onto the initiative for most of the match although the second set was extremely close with Daniela Korcheva and Aurelia pinning back the side from Greater Manchester with strong accurate serving. The third set was largely competitive too but from 21:15 Tameside confidence grew as Richmond's waned and they won five of the final six rallies.

The under 16 boys featured Richmond and EBC Greenhouse. Richmond looked stronger and more confident at the outset and made a good start but the lads from Tooting soon raised their game and played very well indeed to take the first set. Richmond bounced back immediately and made a great start to the second set later extending their lead to 16:9 with some big hitting by middle, Jonathan Drysdale-Anderson who was to be voted MVP at the end of the game. Good serving by Greenhouse captain, Nasir Khan, helped his side to a good start in the third but Richmond were never far behind and eventually shaded the set to go one in front. Richmond made another good start as the fourth set got under way and this time they refused to allow their opponents back into the game eventually winning the set by five points - and the trophy.

It was Richmond and EBC Greenhouse again in the under 18 men's match. Richmond won deservedly but Greenhouse made them work hard even though, in the end, it was clear that the better team had won. They produced a copy-book display of volleyball in the first set to win it by nine points and, although they rather went off the boil in the early first part of the second when Greenhouse raised their game and played very well indeed, going into a small lead but Richmond perhaps shocked into improvement by the reverse, then regained their imperious form and stormed through the rest of the set. Again in the third set Greenhouse did not perform badly but Richmond, appearing now to be full of confidence, outplayed them and the title was soon theirs, captain Javier Bello being selected as MVP.

At the same time Richmond took on Tameside again in the under 18 women's final and we report it last because the match lasted much longer and, after a titanic contest, the Londoners proved the stronger side. If there were superficial similarities with the under 16 final, there being nine players who featured in both matches, this was a very different game. Curiously, given their earlier victory, Tameside looked nervous in the opening stages and Richmond were quickly a set in front. Then the match settled into a typical final: tense with no quarter asked or given. Tameside shaded the second set and then looked to have recovered totally the poise of their under 16s to take a set lead in a comfortable third set. However, Richmond were not going to give in without a fight and played magnificently to impose themselves on the fourth set and, having done that, showed great character in a fluctuating final set in which they lost a 6:2 lead to be behind when the sides changed ends then recovered from 10:all to win the next five rallies helped by great serving by an apparently nerveless Ilona McDonald, the match ending with a massive shout from Richmond supporters as Martha Bullen smashed down the line. Anna Keefe was MVP

One junior match to Tameside and one to Richmond. Perhaps honours even was a just outcome.
As to the weekend over all: eight finals, four London winners, five London runners up. Volleyball fans in the capital should be satisfied with that. I suspect they won't be.

Results
Saturday
Women's Shield
Polonia IMKA lost to Sheffield Hallam, 25:20 18:25 24:26 25:20 13:15

Men's Shield
London Aces beat Polska Manchester, 25:20 25:18 26:28 25:21

Women's Cup
Northumbria beat Durham, 24:26 25:18 25:20 25:20

Men's Cup
IBB Polonia lost to Northumbria. 23:25 23:25 25:27

Sunday
Girls under 16
Richmond lost to Tameside, 15:25 23:25 16:25

Boys under 16
Richmond beat EBC Greenhouse, 21:25 25:17 25:23 25:20

Women under 18
Richmond beat Tameside, 25:17 23:25 18:25 25:21 15:10

Men under 18
Richmond beat EBC Greenhouse, 25:16 25:15 25:19

National Volleyball Centre, 14/15th April

Contribution from Douglas Barr-Hamilton

With thanks to fuller match reports provided on the Volleyball England web site and IBB Polonia

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