Essex Rebels NVL Women Sweep London Lionhearts
Essex Rebels Women stayed perfect on the year with a gutsy 3-0 sweep of a dogged London Lionhearts team. Lionhearts, promoted via the playoffs last season brought their well-known defence first approach and frustrated Rebels. Although the Essex team never looked in much danger of losing the contest.
Rebels started slowly, with Lionhearts building service pressure to jump out to an early lead. However, improvements from their passing unit, and a strong serving run from substitute Leah Blight brought the Rebels back into the set. Smart attacking play from MVP, outside hitter Kathryn Attar and middle blocker Grace Igbokwe, helped to unlock the sturdy Lionhearts defensive unit. With scores tight as the set approached the 20’s, Rebels were able to show their class and pull away for a 25-20 set win.
Set 2 started evenly poised and remained that way throughout. Rebels grabbed some early momentum through a series of monster blocks by England National Team middle blocker Saskia Frietas, earning the Rebels some precious break points and putting pressure on Lionhearts. However, the London based team were up to the task, using their scrappy and high energy approach to outlast Rebels in a series of awe-inspiring rallies. As the set drew towards its conclusion, two phenomenal sharp cross court swings from outside hitter Lea Borovec and a strong service run from Frietas pushed the Rebels to victory in set 2, again by a 25-20 scoreline.
The subsequent final set was a ding-dong battle of high-level side out volleyball. Rebels began to hit their stride offensively, with setter Ellen Floyd keeping Lionhearts scrambling, running multiple attacking combinations in the front row. As the long rallies returned, thrilling the crowd at the Essex Sport Arena, libero Madoka Weldon stepped up and began to make some fantastic defensive plays. Coach Alex Chinery took the decision to reverse his earlier substitution, re-introducing opposite Brianne Carmody to the game halfway through the set. The different picture offensively would prove crucial to Rebels as Carmody popped up with a vital kill and strong end of set serving performance to allow Rebels to complete the 3-0 sweep with a 25-23 third set victory.
After the game, Coach Chinery had the following thoughts. “Today was another great step for this group. Lionhearts came to the ESA today and tested us with a brilliant defensive performance. I’m pleased that this group was able to face another tough test in which they were under pressure and pass it with flying colours. To be the only team across both the men’s and women’s Super League’s with a perfect record is something for us to be proud of as we look to kick on with the rest of the season.”
The Rebels are resting next weekend, before returning to action in the National Cup against Loughborough Students, in Loughborough on November 12th. Their next home game will take place on Saturday November 25th against Cambridge ARU.