The big news from the Men’s Super League is that competition for the top places was thrown wide open on Saturday (20th November) by Tendring’s beating of Durham in four sets having won the first two with tie breaks and the tension increased by Richmond Docklands, also in four sets, on Sunday.
Malory Eagles, playing in the Ruth Gorse Academy from which the Leeds club takes its name, moved up the table in with an invaluable win. Unusually, it was the home side that took time to settle but, having done so, forced Malory to produce their very best in the third set which they narrowly lost and in the fourth which, almost as narrowly, they were able to win.
Newcastle, Staffs. had taken a set off Durham a couple of weeks ago and IBB Polonia did not allow their visitors the opportunity to repeat the success although it was rather harder work in the third. The win takes them to second place in the league table with games in hand and brings the three London clubs into the top four.
The promoted clubs from the 2019-20 second division, second placed Richmond Bucks and divisional winners, Weymouth Beach met in the Men’s First Division. Bucks had made the more promising start at this higher level and they maintained their form away on the south coast, winning relatively comfortably in three sets..
Giants nearly threw it all away against Urbond in Portsmouth in their Men’s Division Two fixture. Imposing themselves on proceedings in the second set after winning a hard-fought first, they slipped behind in two further sets before regaining their form in the fifth – though that was a close run finale.
Polonia SideOut beat Malory Eagles in their only outing in the Women’s Super League so far this season and began confidently against Cambridge, a side that has lost three of the five league matches it has played so far. They dominated the first set and, although not quite as assertive in the second, continued to outclass their hosts. It was a surprise, therefore that, although trying different things in the third, they were to lose it. No mistakes in the fourth though: a determined and classy display of volleyball earned them victory and a place in the top half of the table despite having played only two matches.
Inter Orcas met Nottingham University in the Women’s Super League the teams having near identical league statistics as the match began with a drum-beat to rival that of IBB Polonia to welcome back to London three former Richmond players now studying at the university including Mattéa Goalen whose mother Fabienne, former Secretary of the LVA was the source of the noise. Orcas began very well but went off the boil at 12:9 losing nine consecutive rallies and, despite two time-outs, did not settle until they reached 19:23. The university was not going to lose from there. The play had been a mixture of brilliance and good play interrupted by a few too many errors but was entertaining and watched by an appreciative band of spectators, roughly equal numbers for each team. Orcas took the next two sets looking the stronger team but Nottingham roared back in the fourth and enjoyed a tiny lead until 13:12, watchers seeing volleyball of an excellent standard. A few errors then crept into Nottingham play, perhaps trying too hard, and from 18:all, Orcas edged slowly toward the victory they deserved.
Partly because they have played one fewer game, Dartford Chargers and Richmond arrived at their Women’s Division One matches in the two bottom places in the league table.
Dartford Chargers found the going tough in Sunderland and although they battled hard and built a reasonable score in every set, they never really looked as though they would get the better of their hosts.
Richmond had a disastrous opening set in Bristol but quickly got the embarrassment out of their system, winning the second set but not quite retaining control in the third success in which seemed to give their hosts extra confidence, leaving Richmond at the foot of the table.
After defeat on Saturday by a team low in the Men’s Super League table, Durham looked lethargic in their opening set against Richmond Docklands in Kingston on Sunday. However, they roared back in the second to win it by two points. Docklands, with two defeats in five games, were not overawed however and both held their nerve and played very well indeed to shade the next two sets to strengthen the three London teams’ place in the top four of the table..
In the Women’s Super League Inter Orcas, having won the previous day, did not look a shade of the side that had beaten Nottingham University nor for that matter, the one that had beaten their opposition, Tendring, in three sets a month ago. After competing well in the first set, they made too many errors as they slipped to defeat in three sets.
As the first serve made its way over the net, Cardiff had lost all six of its games in Women’s Division 2 so far this season while Giants had won two of their four league fixtures. However, it’s early days in the competition and it looks as though home advantage may just have been the deciding factor in an hard-fought, high standard and exciting match the result of which could not have been closer,
There was a trip to Northampton for Dartford Warriors to play a triangular series of matches in Women’s Division 3. Cambridge Rhinos were their first opponents. Warriors, playing their first match of the competition against one that has already played three, did not look quite sharp enough and, sadly, after losing the opening set, had to face an increasing confident side that duly won in three sets
Their performance against their hosts, Northampton was altogether better against a side that had just beaten Rhinos and the team will be disappointed that they faded rather badly in the fourth set.
Saturday 20th November
Men’s Super League
Malory Eagles beat Leeds, 25:14 25:16 23:25 25:22
IBB Polonia beat Newcastle, Staffs. 25:13 25:19 25:23
Men’s First Division
Weymouth Beach, lost to Richmond Bucks, 20:25 16:25 18:25
Men’s Division Two
Urbond Portsmouth lost to Giants, 24:26 16:25 25:19 25:18 13:15
Women’s Super League
Cambridge lost to Polonia Sideout, 11:25 15:25 25:20 17:25
Inter Orcas beat Nottingham University 20:25 25:16 25:19 25:20
Women’s Division One
Sunderland beat Dartford Chargers, 25:16 25:19 25:18
Richmond lost to Bristol, 12:25 25:23 21:25 18:25
Sunday 30th November
Men’s Super League
Richmond Docklands beat Durham, 25:14 24:26 25:23 25:22
Women’s Super League
Inter Orcas lost to Tendring, 25:27 15:25 18:25
Women’s Division 2
London Giants lost to Cardiff Falcons, 19:25 25:27 25:14 25:21 13:15
Women’s Division 3
Rhinos Cambridge beat Dartford Warriors, 25:20 25:18 25:15
Northampton beat Dartford Warriors, 25:20 27:29 25:19 25:12
Contributor, Douglas Barr-Hamilton
Picture: Inter Orcas’ time-out
Source: Volleyball England website