Wessex Seniors aim to bounce back after challenging season openers

Wessex Women traveled the length of the UK to Newcastle and Durham last weekend to take on two of the Super 8 top teams.

Wessex v Northumbria 

Wessex turned up with a minimal squad of six ready to face top of the league Northumbria. Starting off strong in the first set, Wessex looked confident. They picked up some great defensive balls which shook Northumbria's attack. Pushing from the base line and keeping the pressure on with the front court attack Wessex held their own in the set, however Northumbria had the upper hand and with and unbeatable attack through four took the first set 25-13. 

 

Still in high spirits, Wessex came out fighting in the second set. Smith dominated the net with her slide attack and Wessex stayed strong in the back court. Some big attacks from Northumbria gave them a solid lead in the second half of the set. Wessex fought back with some tactical shots from Grimson, but it was too late, Northumbria closed the set 25-10. 

 

The third set started off much the same as the previous. Wessex stumbled on their serve receive but after a tactical time out, they started to build some momentum. Leddy played an off shot to the centre of the court and took the set to 16-24, Grimson compounded this with a huge block at position four taking the score to 17-24. Wessex were showing no sign of giving up, however Northumbria showed their strength and took the third and final set 25-17. 

 

Wessex v Durham

Wessex opened the set well. Their attack and defence was strong however a few communication errors allowed Durham to take the lead. Wessex had a solid service receive which allowed Tinker a chance to use the Smith and Jeffrey in the middle. An injury in the first half of the set shook Wessex's game, however Jeffrey played on and despite her injured thumb kept pressure on Durham's block with her middle attack. Wessex were slowly closing on Durham's lead with a strong attack through two from Morrison, however it was too late and Durham took the first set 25-20. 

 

Taking the momentum from the first set Wessex kept the pressure on and were 8-5 up at the first technical timeout. A few service error allowed Durham to take the lead in the second half of the set. Grimson put her beach skills to use and stole a few points with some tactical cut shots. Keeping their defence disciplined Wessex hung on in the set, however Durham showed their strength front court and took the second set 25-17. 

 

Not giving up, Wessex came out fighting. They sided out straight away and Tinker went back to serve, putting pressure on Durham's libero. Smith made some amazing defensive balls and Wessex kept pushing from the front court. 8-6 down at the first technical, Wessex were building momentum, however Durham stepped up and dominated the net with their slide and outside attack. Despite Wessex's best efforts Durham took the third and final set 25-20. 

Wessex Men started their season with a double header against last years champions Polonia followed by Sheffield

Wessex vs Polonia

 

With Polonia wining their first super 8 fixture of the season against London Mallory, Wessex travelled to their first away fixture of the season with a depleted squad, missing outside hitter Andrea Ivanov . Despite this, Wessex were able to provide a competitive fixture for the reigning league champions. Good defense and serving from the young Wessex side kept both teams at the technical time outs in the first set. The return of Venezuelan Opposite Miguel Espinoza lead to number of big kills, coupled with strong middle work from Koko Stoimenov. After taking a lead, Wessex were able to take the first set 25-22. Despite a good start, Wessex struggled with serve reception in the 2nd set, pacing the way for Polonia to transition ruthlessly from defense. Polonia won the 2nd set easily 25-17. The Wessex side fought back in the 3rd set, with better reception and strong work at the net from the Hunter brothers, Matthew and Daniel. However, Polonia still maintained consistency and aggression with strong blocking to take the 2rd set 25-21. Form there, Polonia were able to maintain control and extend their lead in the 4th set. Wessex hustled hard in defense to the keep the scores close, but were unable to capitalize on some opportunities that may have extended the game. Polonia sealed the game with 2 blocks, winning the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.

 

Wessex vs Sheffield

Eager to bounce back after their defeat to Polonia, Wessex came out very strongly against team from Sheffield; solid side out play couple with hard hitting form the returning Andrea Ivanov and Miguel Espinoza; Libero Harry Jones was able to contribute with good defense and solid passing, helping Wessex to take the opening set 25-20. The second set saw the Wessex side make a slow start, leading to a heavy deficit at the first technical time out. The side hustled hard and worked their way back into the set, with some strong serving from Dan Hunter as well strong play through the middle from Matt Hunter. The Wessex side remained solid in side out to switch a 24-22 deficit to 25-24. However, despite and epic exchange, Sheffield edged Wessex to take the set 29-27. Wessex responded well in the 3rd set, capitalizing on opportunities in transition to lead at both technical time outs; the side never looked back and took their chances to take the set 25-16, backed on by the support of a home crowd. Despite Wessex looking poised to come out strong in the 4th set, Sheffield responded well with strong blocking at the net. Wessex remained solid in side out but similarly to their Saturday fixture, they were unable to take opportunities and lost the 4th set 25-20. Going into the 5th set, Wessex needed some big plays to re-take the initiative; despite trading all the way to 10-10, some big blocks from Sheffield shifted the momentum, giving them the set 15-11 and the match 3-2; a second loss for Wessex.

 

Wessex Coach Andy Jones said it was not the ideal start of the season but felt early play from his side showed promise going in to the rest of the season. Wessex will look to improve on this weekend as they travel away to Newcastle to take on Team Northumbria.