Exeter Storm has qualified for the last 8 of the Volleyball England U18 Men’s National Championships.
The Exeter Storm U18s were up against even tougher opposition than in the previous round, but it was evident that they had been training hard over the last month.
Following an early start to travel to LeAF Academy, in Bournemouth, Exeter Storm faced St. Thomas More Lynx first. Starting confidently, Storm had a healthy nine point lead midway through the first set. Complacency crept in, allowing Lynx to narrow the gap late on and build up their confidence ahead of the second set. Lynx stepped up another gear after the interval, with strong attacks from their outside hitters, to force a third set. Knowing that defeat would jeopardise their chances of qualifying for the next stage of the competition, the Exeter boys dug deep to regain their earlier form. The deciding set was tight, but Storm finished as deserving winners.
Wessex LeAF B, who they had already defeated in the previous round, had strengthened their team by adding several experienced players from the LeAF Academy squad. Despite the bigger block and stronger attacks, Exeter Storm picked up everything that was thrown at them and bombarded the opponent’s court relentlessly. The setter, Kyle Mitchell, was able to unleash the middle hitters, due to improved passing accuracy and the more fluid transition between defence and attack. A succession of kills from Dom Garside helped the team to take the first set in style. Wessex put up more of a fight in the second set, but was always second best to a Storm team that was firing on all cylinders.
Qualification was secure with a game to spare, against Wessex LeAF A; the favourites to win the whole competition. LeAF’s consistently strong serving nullified the Storm attack, preventing them from ever getting a foothold in the match. If Storm had been as sharp as in the second match, they could have put far more pressure on Wessex LeAF A, but there was no shame in defeat against a squad of full-time academy players.
The last 8 teams will meet next month, at the National Volleyball Centre, in Kettering.
Exeter Storm Volleyball Club is always looking to add to its squads. Full details are available on the club website: http://www.exeterstormvc.co.uk/
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