Today’s top news
New Forest 2-3 EBC Greenhouse
(14-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 12-15)
It what was a historic day for the club participating in our first National Junior Final! The Forest boys (and Coaches Clayton & Vanessa Lucas) put in an incredible effort to come back from a bleak 2 sets to 0 down to nearly claim a stunning 3-2 victory. At the end, it was very fine margins that separated both teams. Victories over Exeter Storm, Black Country, Tendring, and Boswells over the winter months resulted in this momentous occasion! As the Teams walked out onto court at the National Volleyball Centre, they were met with a huge chorus of noise...it was time! The #GreenArmy were in support on the day with an overwhelming 30+ NFV members in attendance in the stands, not to mention the dozens watching the live stream from home.
The final was always going to be a case of who kept the nerves at bay best, especially playing in front of a sell-out crown in Kettering. It was to be Greenhouse who settled the best as they capitalised on several shaky moments from the boys racing away with the first set 25-14. A change of ends and set 2 was underway, with Forest looking to level the match. Greenhouse
continued their momentum from set 1 however, and although there were glimpses of the Forest boys’ true talent as they continuously pegged back their opponents from London, it was a two sets lead for Greenhouse (25-22).
There was a sense that Greenhouse had assumed the match was now theirs...however, some stern words from Head Coach Clayton Lucas saw the match turned on its head in the space of 45 minutes. Forest Captain and Outside Hitter Ben Lucas had certainly rolled up his sleeves and was now producing some quite outrageous shots to lead the Forest charge. Opposite Hitter Campbell Golding joined in with the attacking assault on the Greenhouse defence as set 3 went to Forest and it was Game On! Forest MVP and Middle Blocker Tobi Ofner was causing great frustration for the Londoners hitters, as he blocked near on everything that came his way. With Lucas, Golding and Ofner in the zone, the rest of the team stepped up a gear too, as Forest resisted a late surge from Greenhouse to take the 4th 25-21...we were going to a decider!
It’s always a flip of the coin in set 5, as both teams looked to reach 15-points first and claim the victory. Forest again took an early lead, but the grit that had been missing from Greenhouse in the previous two sets returned as both teams traded points throughout. In the end, a huge middle kill from Greenhouse on match point sent the Londoners into wild celebrations and claim the victory in what was agreed was the match of the weekend at the finals. Clayton Lucas said, “I’m overwhelmed by the support from the club today...made it a truly amazing final.” What was also incredibly humbling, was the sheer number of other clubs’ supporters/members asking for flags & t-shirts so they could cheer us on during the match. It very much felt that 90% of the people in attendance yesterday were rooting for the Forest boys and that was such a lovely feeling.
Club President James Kemp said “When I set the club up back in 2008, it was to provide juniors with the opportunities to compete at the highest levels, both in National League and Junior Competitions. To come within a whisker of gold with a group of lads, many of whom only train once week currently, was truly remarkable. Similarly to the London Olympics, we intend to use this achievement as a platform to ensure a legacy is created as we approach our 2nd decade as a club. We have superb coaches at this club and a huge pool of talent to select from within our 3-satellite clubs at Noadswood, Ballard and Priestlands and neighbouring feeder schools. Our achievement in reaching the National Final is heightened even more as Greenhouse train 5-times a week!
The club would like to thank our Marketing Coordinator Jo Ankers for helping with the many kit orders, to New Milton Sand & Ballast for their sponsorship, to James Kemp and Matt Mills from PixelJuice Graphics for producing the flags/banners and KMD Ltd for all the printing – it was a sea of green on the day and the boys looked incredible on court! Thanks also to Simon Golding for hiring a broadcast camera for the match – the boys now have their own DVD of the match.
Kemp went on to say about the squad “you have made a lot of people extremely proud...none more so than your own families. The match will live long in my memory and although there is disappointment in your hearts currently, in time you will look back with a huge amount of pride in your achievements! What a journey...”
New Forest U16 Boys (2016/17)
Front Row: Reece Foy, Josh Green, Benedict Hyland, Max Chellow, Ben Osborne.
Back Row: Ben Lucas (Captain), Matt Lawrence, Campbell Golding, Tobi Ofner (MVP), Tom Hopkins, Vanessa Lucas (Assistant Coach), Clayton Lucas (Head Coach).