Men's Volleyball Charity Game Showdown Vs Essex
Men's Volleyball Charity Game Showdown Vs Essex
UEL’s Men’s Volleyball team took on the University of Essex in a thrilling encounter during a BUCS Premier League match in which Essex came out the victors, winning 3 sets to 1.
UEL with a smaller squad than last year, the volleyball team having only 9 players registered to Essex’s 13. That may not seem like a big difference but volleyball is a physically demanding sport so extra players means that you can stay fresher for longer. UEL were trying to build on last week’s win over the University of Cambridge in straight sets.
The first set got underway with UEL serving, and UEL were the ones to take the lead. Going two points clear early. But Essex came back scoring four on the trot. The South East team getting revved up with chanting. Until UEL got back on level terms after two mistakes by University of Essex hitting the ball into the net in quick succession. But just before the first timeout a strong block from an Essex player landed on the UEL side, putting them 5-4 ahead.
UEL responded after the brief interlude with a point of their own after a block didn’t have the desired affect bouncing straight out of bounds, but a few moments later Essex were back ahead, through the same avenue (5-6). Essex then went on to score a further point through a strong serve. But that didn’t discourage UEL winning a point off a great block, followed by an ace by Christopher Chappell’e (7-7). UEL used an unconventional method when on serve, their players straight in a line in front of the server. After a short rally, an attempted light tip over bounced out of play giving Essex the lead once more before a timeout (7-8).
Essex took a two, three then four point lead after consecutive serves, building momentum (7-11). UEL got back in the points with a great spike from Niall Burton. The resulting serve failed to make the net and then another point after UEL got caught by surprise with a great reaction block hit a UEL player. Essex continued to build on their lead with another point. Until a long serve went straight out of bounds gifting UEL a point (9-14). Essex hit back again though with another point. Soon after some great reaction blocks from UEL, lead to a mistake by Essex (10-15). A tantalising team point came next, all players involved and Gary Slade smashed a spike into the empty middle of the opposition end (11-15). UEL scored another unanswered point, before a reversal of a decision gave Essex another point prior to a third timeout (12-16).
Slade scored another great spike immediately after the restart, then Chappell’e did the same, getting UEL to within two points (14-16). Essex got the next two points, before hitting another long spike straight out (15-18). Essex pulled even further ahead with another three points, before an over hit serve from both teams (16-22). A net violation gave UEL the next point after an Essex player failed to avoid hitting it (17-22). A great rally came next both teams putting everything into the point, and it was UEL who got the point after Slade’s attempted spike was blocked but blocked out of play (18-22). Essex went on to score three unanswered points to win the first set by 25 points to 18. A back and fourth set, that Essex showed the prowess.
UEL and Essex shared the first two points of the match, before a light serve hit the net. An ace follow from Daniel ‘GD’ Schmidtke, straight to the back of the court and not gone for (4-2). Essex responded with a well worked point of their own, before two Essex spikes went straight out of bounds. The first timeout was called straight after the point (5-3).
UEL scored with an ace from Chappell’e, the serve just clipping the net prior to hitting the ground – Essex unlucky. The straight line tactic continued to be implemented, throughout the set. The next serve hit the net straight away giving Essex the point. A tantalising rally ensued both teams showing their commitment to the cause “lots of acrobatics from both sides” stated commentator Don McDermott. After multiple blocks Essex won the point after one block bounced out. UEL responded with a good point, before Connor Walker (Essex) powerfully struck a spike through the middle of UEL’s side of the court (6-6). Slade’s attempted spike during the next point went straight out of bounds giving Essex another point. Slade then got another spike blocked out of play giving UEL the point before a timeout called (7-7).
UEL’s serve was too powerful after the timeout, gifting Essex the lead once more. UEL countered with a point of their own. Another long rally ensued before Chappell’e hit a spike over that Essex couldn’t stop giving UEL a two point advantage (10-8). UEL were unlucky in the next point, Schmidtke hitting a spike at the wrong angle, flying straight out of play. Slade continued his good spike form with another, Essex attempting to block but out of play it went (11-9). Rallies were a tone of this set, another briefer rally went ahead, with Essex forcing the error on UEL with a powerful low spike. UEL responded with a thumping spike of their own that Essex couldn’t block, the East London club staying two points clear (12-10). The resulting serve had too much power flying straight out of play, well recognised by Essex just leaving it. Essex didn’t hang around to make the scores level with another powerful spike (12-12). Essex’s serve hitting the net from the restart, not what they wanted, giving UEL the point to go ahead. The team in Red responded with a spike getting blocked out of play, off of a UEL player, pulling Essex level (not for the first time in the set). UEL pulled ahead again after a mistimed block from Essex flew into the air and out of play. During the next rally John Whitman was in inspired form, putting his body on the line, chucking himself in the way to block and set up his teammates, UEL eventually winning the point after a long rally. Both teams traded points before the next timeout, with UEL leading (16-13).
UEL extended their lead after the timeout, Slade showing his fitness and reaction time with 2 spikes in a matter of seconds to score at the second attempt. Essex committed a net violation during the next point to further increase their advantage (18-13 – UEL’s biggest lead over the two sets). Essex weren’t done their though getting a point through UEL’s serve into the net. UEL however were high in confidence and continued to control the set with a further point. Each team traded points over the next couple of rallies, UEL extending their lead (21-15). UEL got to within three points of the set before a third timeout (22-15).
Both teams shared the next two points, UEL getting ever closer to set point (23-16). Essex managed another two points before UEL got to match point. However Essex scored another point before a spike from Niall Burton secured UEL the set. UEL played a brilliant set in the second winning 25 points to 19.
Everyone was treated to a tight third set with both teams going for broke and forcing extra points to end the set. Throughout the third set UEL and Essex kept trading valuable points, on numerous occasions the scores were level. UEL raced into a lead of 3-1 before Essex began to find their feet in the third set. The first six points were shared to have the scores level at 3-3. The next two points were shared (4-4) before a long overpowered serve gave Essex the lead. UEL weren’t going to give up levelling up soon after. The opening points were well contested with the 12 points played being shared between the teams (6-6). Net violations was a problem, both teams getting caught out. Prior to the first timeout Essex scored two unanswered points to lead (6-8).
Essex extended their lead with an early point, before a strong spike gave UEL a point (7-9). UEL got to within a point of Essex with another good return that Essex couldn’t do anything about. A long rally followed, Essex securing the point after Cam Roads reacted quickest to touch the ball over catching out UEL’s front line (8-10). Gary House secured a three point advantage for Essex with a brilliant block after a spike was attempted by UEL. A poor serve from Essex into the net and spike from Slade got UEL back to within a point of Essex (10-11). Neither team giving up on any point and arguing their point if a tight call went against them. A net violation followed and it drew UEL onto level terms once more (11-11). Before a spike from Walker and a tip down from Toby French put Essex on the front foot (11-13). UEL responded with a point of their own, before Walker put another spike over to keep a two point lead. For the next points UEL were able to disrupt Essex’s
play with some great work, pulling themselves level with 14points apiece. UEL were unable to take the lead a block going in the favour of Essex by bouncing straight out of bounds. Before another serve that went straight out of play. With 30 points played they were shared by the teams. Just before timeout was called UEL sent a serve into the net, which gave Essex the upper hand (15-16).
UEL started the stronger winning the first two points after the restart, a spike from Burton and an ace from Whitman putting UEL in the lead for second time in the set (17-16). Essex drew level after consecutive points from UEL a block was fortuitous. Slade continued to shine with another successful spike, UEL aiming to change the game. Another change in score meant the points were once again even, not for the first, second or third time in the set (18-18). Slade again hit a spike over that was blocked this time but out of play due to the power and pace he hits the ball with. But Essex drew level, a never say die attitude shown from both sets of players making an entertaining set. Essex retook the lead before a timeout was called, with a slender one point advantage (19-20).
French nearly pulled Essex two points clear but for a mishit spike to go just wide of the right-hand line, UEL back on level terms. UEL took another one point lead in the next point, Whitman hitting a spike through two attempting blockers (21-20). Only for the scores to be level once more with an attempted knock down back across an Essex player bounced just the wrong side of the line. UEL pulled ahead again, in anger one Essex player had too much to say and was shown a yellow card. UEL finally got a two point advantage in a tough call when a spike from Essex went over, only for the players hand to strike the net giving UEL the point. Moments later a timeout was called (23-21).
A strong spike put Essex within a point of UEL, only for Essex to pull level in the next point (23-23). UEL had the opportunity to secure the third set after the Essex serve was put into the net by Kieran Good. Unfortunately UEL were unable to capitalise with Essex forcing extra points. UEL had two more chances to win the set but struggled to take their chances when they came to fruition. In the end University of Essex took the set by the scruff of the net and were able to get ahead and won back to back points to win the third set by 28 points to 26.
In what ended up being the final set Essex showed how dominant they could be. Buoyed by their heroics in the previous set they took control early and didn’t let go. UEL played well throughout the match but unfortunately were unable to recover from the third set. The University of Essex won the fourth and final set by 25 points to 17. A valiant effort from UEL but in the end it wasn’t enough this time.
After the match I spoke to UEL’s Niall Burton to get his thoughts on the match: “I’m a little disappointed, we didn’t start strong and throughout the first set we were inconsistent. When it came to the second set though, we came together as a team, started playing better than the other team and we really took pride, we deserved better. They weren’t a good team, we should’ve done better, so hopefully next time we will bring our game.” When asked about what he thinks the team would do differently when they play the University of Essex away he said “I think we need to prepare better, we need to start the game a little stronger because this time we looked a little bit cold. We didn’t look like we wanted to win and then as we got into the game we showed a lot more heart. And then whenever they started taking it easy we just, it just looked like we didn’t care anymore, which is unfortunate because we did want to win it just, we were just down and in the dumps. But next time we will come stronger, knowing what we’re gonna expect and what we’ve got to do to win.”
Match report Adam Payne