National League Division Two: New Forest Volleyball 3-0 Guildford International
NEW Forest men’s volleyball team took their third straight victory in Division Two of the National with a convincing victory at home over experienced side Guildford International.
Despite being without junior stars Ollie Smith and Archie Golding, Forest backed-up their previous wins against Newmarket and Oxford and Brookes Students with an impressive three sets-to-nil win over a Guildford team that had just moved into the top three, following their demolition of Urbond Portsmouth last week.
Forest were boosted during the week with the signing of former player Ben Noke as a replacement for England junior international Ben Osborne, who moved on to Super League team Kingston Docklands in January. Noke, who divides his sporting time between volleyball and goalkeeping with Downton reserves, made an impressive return to the Forest ranks.
Alongside fellow wing spiker Joe Waterman and middle blockers James Kemp and Joao Ines the home side controlled the Guildford service, which once again enabled captain and playmaker Michael Johnson to leave the opposition block flat-footed with his speedy and accurate distribution.
Completing the line-up was opposite spiker Alex Lusby-Taylor, in his final season with the club, who’s clever southpaw attacks scored heavily throughout the match.
Set one and two were tightly contested, but it was the ability of the Forest team to continually side-out from the Guildford service that kept the pressure on their opponents. Tough serving from Lusby-Taylor, Waterman and Johnson proved to be the difference though in the key stages of each set.
This was backed up by intelligent blocking from both Middles, Kemp and Ines, who shut down the key Guildford hitters Tomas Miskovsky and former England player, 6ft 7in, Martin Blake. Forest forged into a 2-0 lead with a 25-19, 25-20 scoreline.
In set three, Guildford International coach and captain Sven Huster, a former player in the Swedish leagues, came on to the court in a bid to save the day. He tested the Forest defence with some towering spikes, but Noke’s goalkeeping prowess came to the fore as he produced several spectacular diving digs to nullify Huster’s offensive capability.
The set though remained tight, until the game’s MVP Joe Waterman made use of some fine setting from captain Johnson to hit a run of unstoppable spikes, which included a line hit that knocked Guildford back-up setter Morgan off his feet. Forest gained momentum and rapidly finished off the set 25-16 to close out the match.
‘Organised and disciplined’
Coach Simon Golding was delighted with the team once again, but it was Guildford player Martin Blake who provided the most telling comment on the match when he described the Forest performance as the most organised and disciplined, they had faced all season.
Disappointingly for Forest though, relegation rivals Newmarket recorded another form-defying win when they overcame Oxford, meaning the battle to stay in the division is going down to the wire.
New Forest’s next challenge is in two weeks when they travel to league-leaders Weymouth for a south-coast derby that will have plenty riding on the result.
For more information about New Forest Volleyball Club, please visit www.newforestvolleyball.com.