South East Squad: Theo Lucas, Ben Lucas, Alfie Donkin, Will Grinyer, Campbell Golding, Ollie Kansisus – Pocock, Ayo Adewumi, Josh Green.
South East U15s Reign Supreme
Four pupils from Priestlands and one from Highcliffe School took part in the National U15 Inter- Regional volleyball tournament, held at the University of East London on the 3rd and 4th of May 2015. The boys from New Forest Volleyball Club, had been selected to represent the South East Region.
South East Chair Freda Bussey said: “So proud of the boys and the coaches. Well done New Forest”
New Forest Volleyball Club Chair Kyle Williamson said: “Wow – we are so proud of the boys achieving a win where 17 successive squads before them have not – it’s a huge testament to not only the work we have been doing at club level in the New Forest, but a fantastic demonstration of the enormous effort that the South East coaches, Luke Wiltshire & Clayton Lucas have put into the team this year, allowing with the rest of the South East staff – we are grateful to them all”
The event played over two days had teams from across England & Northern Ireland representing the countries various regions.
The tournament was played on a round robin basis followed by semi-finals and a final. The best of three set matches were played to 25 points in the first two sets with the decider, if needed, being played to 15.
South East got off to a winning start beating East Midlands two sets to nil.
The second game of the day was against tournament favourites London. Due to injuries South East’s squad for the event comprised only eight players instead of twelve, making them the smallest squad competing. The team were beaten by London two zero, 25 – 27, 15- 25.
Day two was going to be a long day of tough competition with three back to back matches for South East. Win all three and they would be in the semi-finals.
The first of the three matches was against East, which went to the decider, with South East taking the win 15:12
The second game was against rivals South West, a team fancied to make the finals with two England Cadet players in their ranks.
South East got off to a great start, taking the first set. South West bounced back in the second to set up the decider. South West’s coach Jurek Jankowski a former England and Great Britain International was bantering with South East’s Assistant coach and former International team mate Clayton Lucas about the rivalry and having an unbeaten record against Lucas’s team prior to the match, and it was looking like that was going to continue as South West took an early lead.
South East though, re organized and eased away to take the third set 15:10
The final group match was against West Midlands and the team was able to relax a little with a comfortable two zero victory. Josh Green the teams second setter, stepping in to the lead role allowing for Highcliffe’s Campbell Golding to rest up ahead of the semi-finals, which the team were assured of, having beat the South West.
The knock out stages were going to be tougher than the group stages as the top four teams emerged from the pack.
For South East it was a re match against South West. South East got off to a slow start this time and paid the price losing the first set. The Team then bounced back in the second to set up a tense decider.
South West took the advantage only for South East to snatch it back through a thunderous spike from Theo Lucas through the middle to set up match point. South East could not convert the chance and allowed South West back in. However solid play from the boys once again saw them take the match 15:13.
Into the final and another re match, this time against defending champions London , who had only dropped one set throughout the tournament.
South East were running on reserve going into the final and were further hampered when Ayo Adewumi, the teams other middle hitter went down with cramp and could not start the match. That meant that Ollie Kansisus – Pocock had to play out of position through the middle. While the coaching staff worked on Ayo to rid the cramp, the boys, undeterred took the game to London and opened up a lead in the first set.
The boys playing their best volleyball of the tournament held on to the lead long enough for Ayo to recover and be subbed onto court. Adewumi had an intstant impact making a huge block against London’s outside hitter. South East opened up a three point lead and needed only three more points to take the set, before Adewumi cramped up again and had to leave the court. South East managed to hold and take the set the 25:23, shocking London and delighting the South East fans. London regrouped and with Adewumi out for the whole of set two it wasn’t looking good for South East. London opened up a ten point lead. Head coach Luke Witshire substituted out Campbell Golding and brought on Portsmouth’s Josh Green to see if the boys could turn the game back round.
Things started to look up, the team settled into a rhythm and began taking points when disaster struck.
Ben Lucas playing defence miss timed his attempted dig from a huge London spike and the ball bounced up off the floor into his face as he dived after it. This resulted in a bloody nose and Ben having to leave the court. South East had no Substitutes available and had used both time outs. Down 22:18 it was looking like South East would have to forfeit the set. The referee called an injury timeout and the race was on to patch Ben up and get back out on court. An ice pack, plenty of tissues and one nose plug later Ben was fit to return and the set could continue.
The team now had their backs against the wall but did not give up and made London work hard to take set, which they did 25:21
After twelve months of training and two days of fierce competition it had all come down to this: One set to decide this year’s National Champions. Both teams were playing fantastic volleyball – London’s attacking power tempered by South East’s defensive skills, keeping the ball in play.
The teams were matching each other point for point. Will Grinyer was playing through the pain having landed heavily keeping the ball off the floor in spectacular fashion during one rally. At nine all Adewumi declared himself fit to play and was subbed on to the front court. The ball was set to the wing for London to spike, Adewumi jumped to block when the London attacker came through the net, colliding with Adewumi, who landing awkwardly, sparked another cramp.; this time in his other leg! It was the end of the road for the team’s captain, who had given everything he had.
The players though seemed to be revitalized by what they saw as an injustice and stepped up a gear. Campbell Golding then made the dig of the tournament, keeping the ball alive from a quick attack by London. South East took the point and had London rattled. Two errors in a row by London gave South East a three point lead.
London tried to come back but South East held them at bay reaching match point at 14:12 and serving for the title. London sided out for 13:14, meaning South East had one clear chance to take gold by siding out first time. If London took the point to make it 14 all then it would be the first team to get two points clear would win.
The tension was unbearable, London served, the ball was passed by Alfie Donkin to Campbell Golding who set to Theo Lucas, Lucas hit and London scrambled to keep it alive, one touch then another, but they could not get it back and it was all over South East were U15 National Champions for the first time in 17 years!!