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Men's Volleyball in Triumphant Win Against Bournemouth

Men's Volleyball in Triumphant Win Against Bournemouth

UEL men’s volleyball first team overcame Bournemouth 3-2 in a pulsating top of the table clash at the Sports Dock on Wednesday afternoon. Bournemouth, who beat UEL 3-2 in the reverse fixture, came into the match top on set difference knowing that a win would guarantee they sit top of the table going into the Christmas break. However, the hosts knew that if they could beat Bournemouth for the first time in eight attempts, they would knock them off first position. Throughout the first set, Gary Slade and Christopher Chappelle were influential for the home side in their attacking movements. On occasion, both sides conceded a couple of cheap points when serves went long. However, in equal measure there were some great examples of effective blocking and clinical spikes. After a hard-fought opening set UEL edged it by a score of 25-21, drawing first blood in this must win match.

In the second set Bournemouth, despite trailing for the first part of the set, looked a different side as they stormed into the lead. At 14-14, the outcome looked as though it would continue to be an unpredictable one but the visitors gained a healthy advantage courtesy of some well executed shots, a UEL violation and shots that went long. Consequently, Bournemouth ran out winners by a score of 25-18 to level the tie at 1-1 overall. After being on the back foot for the last section of the second set, UEL dominated the third evident in the fact that Bournemouth were never in the lead. There was no one outstanding individual which contributed to UEL’s success with Slade, Chappelle, John Whitman and Christian La Du all displaying quality in their point scoring. However, Bournemouth made sure they didn’t go unnoticed with a couple of great shots. Captain Matt Hunter performed a great tip over the net which caught the UEL team off guard, whilst Minos Agathokleous’s spike proved too hot to handle. However, this didn’t prevent UEL taking a 2-1 lead overall by a 25-21 score line.

UEL knew at this stage a win in the fourth set would give them the match. On the other hand, Bournemouth had fought back once and were more than capable of doing it again. Should they do so a fifth set would be required to separate the sides. It was the latter that turned out to be true. Bournemouth, as they had done in the second set, dominated the latter stages and gained significant ground to UEL as they found themselves holding a 24-22 lead. Despite some bright spells from UEL, and the fact that Chappelle saved one set point, his long serve tied the game at 2-2 and ensured a fifth set would be needed.

Typically, this match had all the characteristics of a top-two clash with constant excitement and unpredictability. With the crowd behind them, and the prospect of first place in their sights it was UEL who came flying out of the blocks into a 5-0 lead. Yet again, Chappelle’s powerful spikes caused all sorts of problems and Whitman produced a great block also. At 8-2 the frustration from the Bournemouth coach was clear, UEL would only need 15 points and the game seemed to be slipping from the away sides grasp. Slade contributed a couple more points and Odysseys Adam also got in on the scoring act. At match point with the score standing at 14-9 in favour of the hosts, Daniel Schmidtke won the match for UEL sparking wild celebrations.

Finally, UEL had found a way to beat Bournemouth much to the home sides delight. There was a great contrast of emotion after the final action of the match. UEL knew they would leap into first place and were still in with a shot at the title, whilst Bournemouth were obviously disappointed to have lost despite their best efforts. That was UEL’s last action of the calendar year, they will return to action in February, but that isn’t it for Bournemouth who will have a chance to redeem themselves when they host Cambridge on Saturday.

Match report by Sam Few