Wessex U18s win National Cup Finals!
Wessex U18 Women vs Beach Academy (Devon)
Wessex Leaf under 18 girls completed a stylish National Volleyball Cup Final win in Kettering against Beach Academy ( Devon ) at the weekend to become the National Champions.
In the past the girls have started slowly but showed that they were up for it from the start with a huge block from Amber Davies to take the first point and then quickly moving into a 5-3 lead. Academy fought back for 5-5 but strong hitting from Melina Xanthapoulou and excellent middle hitting from Amber Davies and Hannah Symonds saw Wessex to an 8-5 lead at the first technical time out. Wessex Leaf continued to dominate for the remainder of the set to take it 25-19.
In the second set Beach Academy produced some good volleyball to put Wessex Leaf under pressure and lead 16-11 at the second technical time out. Wessex Leaf fought back but were unable to bring back the deficit and dropped the set 25-16.
The third set saw Beach Academy maintain the pressure taking an early lead 8-5 at the first technical. After the break, excellent distribution from setter Lois Chitticks bought Angel Beckfords hitting prowess into the game with some stunning spikes that Beach Academy had no answer too. Wessex Leaf soon regained the lead and went on to take the set 25-19.
In the fourth set Wessex Leaf found themselves in an early lead with Chitticks finding middle hitter Hannah Symonds for some stunning attacks. A near faultless performance with excellent passing and defence from Holly Merrifield and Lena Bitadou and more huge hits from Angel Beckford, earning her an MVP award, saw Wessex Leaf easily take the set 25-14 and the match 3-1.
Squad: Angel Beckford (c), Amber Davies, Hannah Symonds, Lois Chitticks, Holly Merrifield, Lena Bitadou, Melina Xanthopoulou, Yas Kaashoek, Shelby Leonard, Poppy Pearce
Coaches: Lewie Lett, Dave Gunter, Ed Pearce
Wessex 18 Men vs Boswells
The final match of the VE Cup Finals 2016 featured one of the longest, on-going rivalries in English junior volleyball; Wessex vs. Boswells. Having contested 2/3 previous u18 cup finals, with Boswells besting Wessex on both occasions, the match was set to be a classic.
The opening few points could have dictated the tone of the match; some strong hustle from the Wessex defense, high tempo offence from the Boswells offence. Despite this, efficiency in transition paved the way for Wessex to lead 8-4 at the technical, with Captain Aggelos Mandilaris hitting high in transition.
Consistency and simplicity proved a defining factor; Solid distribution from setter Tom Allen paved the way for offence form Mandilaris and outside hitter Harry Jones, as Wessex capitalized on the mistakes of the Blaze to lead 16-7 at the next technical. From there, the boys in blue never looked back; excellence defense and serving pressure from middle Ed Van Wingerden helped Wessex close out the first set 25-12.
The second set saw Wessex come out with the same focus and intensity however strong serving from Boswells’ Ryan Poole and a big block from Zak Chambers gave the Blaze some momentum. However, Wessex were still able to stretch to an 8-7 lead at the technical; consistent serve reception lead the way for strong side out from Wessex, with Tom Allen’s setting opening up the maximum offensive options. Wessex’s discipline and consistency proved key in stretching to a 21-12 lead, with strong offence from Krzysztof Ozarski and solid blocking from Theo Lucas. Jones’ out of system hitting coupled with Mandilaris master class bought about a 25-13 win.
The third set saw a closer affair between the two teams, with back-to-back errors from Wessex giving the blaze a slight advantage; a swift kill from Mandilaris soon bought back the momentum. Some poor serving form Wessex saw the scores leveled at 10-10, but remaining calm and composed, the boys in blue still lead at the technical timeout; some bang-bang plays in offence from Lucas and Jones. An error from the Blaze and a swing from Ozarski saw Wessex regain the initiative, leading 22-18. From there, Wessex simply deflected a late streak from Boswells to bring up 5 set points. At the third time of asking, a kill from Mandilaris sealed the set 25-21, and 3-0 victory for Wessex.
A massive weekend for club, with both the boys and girls teams taking the U18 National titles in the same year. The MVP understandably awarded to Mandilaris, with high quality, consistent offence helping the team on their way to victory. A fantastic result for the team, with several of the players finishing their junior careers on a high note. Congratulations to coaching staff Kirk Pitman and Clayton Lucas, as well as to all the players, parents and supporters. Their dedication and commitment made this achievement possible.