Wins for Wessex Men and Women in Super 8s!
Both Wessex Men 1 and Women 1 were in action in the Super 8s last weekend. Wessex ladies welcomed Durham and City of Salford to Bournemouth, while the Men travelled to London and Sheffield to play their last matches of 2016.
Wessex Women vs Durham (19-25, 16-25, 17-25)
Wessex started their double header weekend by facing Team Durham. For the first time this season Wessex had a full squad and were feeling positive about the game ahead. The match started well for both sides, Durham dominated the net with their wing attack but Wessex stayed strong on their defense. Wessex did their best to get past Durham's block, however Durham showed their strength and took the first set 25-19.
The second set looked much the same as the previous, Wessex still struggling to get past Durham's block but some tough serving kept Wessex in the game. Wessex concentrated on their serve and pass and put pressure on Durham's passing unit. The second set was there for the taking for Wessex, however once again, Durham stepped up in the second half of the set and took it 25-20.
A change of game plan from Wessex allowed them to take the lead early on in the third set. They switched up their serve and backed it up with a consistent attack. Durham were on the back foot from the outset and Wessex were not going to let up. Wessex took the third set with a convincing score of 25-16.
In the fourth set Wessex were determined not to lose the momentum they built in the third, however Durham stepped up their game. It was looking like quite a close competition. Wessex kept pressure on Durham with their serve, however Durham's attack remained consistent and they took the fourth and final set 25-17.
Wessex Women vs City of Salford (25-15, 25-15, 25-17)
Wessex started the first set well. Dominating from the front court and keeping consistent on the pass they were looking unstoppable. A few service errors from Wessex and some tactical tips from Salford gave them some points on the board, however Wessex remained disciplined and took the first set 25-15
In the second set Wessex focused on their serve and pass. Some tactical substitutions from Wessex switched up the game and gave Wessex the upper hand. Wessex stayed strong in the front court, with a consistent attack from MVP Grimson through 4 and a steady defense from Jeffery back court they took the second set 25-15.
Wessex allowed Salford to take an early lead in the third set, some service and hitting errors put Wessex on the back foot. However, they switched up their game plan and put pressure on Salford's block and defense and regained control of the set. Wessex showed their determination in the second half of the set and took it 25-17.
London Docklands vs Wessex Men (16-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-25)
Wessex Men travelled to North London on Saturday to play Docklands who were sat above them in the table.
Set one started well for Wessex with Wessex's Olly Batt producing a probing run of serves whilst Docklands' hitters made errors from the unbalanced positions they found themselves in. Wessex were ahead 8-2 in a flash and Docklands found themselves already chasing the set. Docklands captain Andrew Pink started to have some success at the net with Bruno Lusic and Flavien Hias also making points but it wasn't enough to close the gap and Wessex took the set 25-16.
The second set proved to be Docklands' highlight with some controlled power hitting and exceptional blocking to take the game back to Wessex. Docklands led 13-9 when Wessex coach Andy Jones took his first time-out of the match. His side responded with some excellent power hitting of their own, Miguel Espinzoa and Andrea Ivanov standing out. Docklands were 16-12 up at the second technical time-out but Wessex recovered to 16-15 with Matt Hunter applying pressure on from the service line. The game then entered its most competitive period with neither side able to gain the upper hand. But after a Docklands' time-out at 22-21 down, Hias killed the ball and then found his serving head to help his side to a 25-22 second set win.
Docklands sprinted into a 3-0 lead at the start of set three with the serving of Jean-Baptiste Arzounian causing the Wessex passing unit problems from the get-go. However, Docklands couldn't maintain the pressure and a beguiling run of serves from Harry Jones helped Wessex go 8-5 up. Wessex continued to dominate, not allowing Docklands any foothold in the set. In the end Wessex cantered to a 25-17 third set win and left Docklands with a mountain to climb.
The fourth set started well for Docklands, again taking a three-point lead at 4-1. But another run of Jones' serves was the catalyst for another Wessex recovery. It was during his run that disaster struck for Docklands. At 5-4 Wessex, Lusic landed awkwardly with a suspected calf tear and without a suitable replacement on the bench, coach Andy Hopper was forced to rejig his side's set-up, making Kieran O'Malley an emergency opposite hitter. Wessex took full advantage and before Docklands were able to adjust properly, the visitors were 15-6 ahead and on their way to a comfortable victory.
The win meant Wessex leapfrogged Docklands into fourth place in the table into 4th place.
Sheffield vs Wessex Men (25-20, 26-24, 18-25, 22-25, 15-11)
Report to follow...