rebels nvl men game report graphic
rebels nvl men game report graphic

Rebels NVL Men Secure Crucial Win Over Malory

February 21, 2024

In this weekend’s match up the Essex Rebels Men’s team faced the formidable London Malory Eagles UEL, who are led by Head Coach Jefferson Williams, the most decorated coach in English volleyball with over 21 Super League Championships. Rebels Head Coach Alex Porter returned to the court after surgery in what would be a hotly contested game for both players and coaches.

Coach Porter played for Coach Williams in his playing days at both Malory and with the England National Team. Starting Malory players, Toby French and Chester Searle are both Essex Alumni, Josh Fundafunda is the big brother of Essex Rebels women’s player Kate Fundafunda and Tobi Shatimehin is the big brother of Thomas Shatimehin. With both teams fighting to secure a spot in this years Super League Final Four Playoffs, it was time for the Rebels to prove themselves after losing to Malory in last years National Cup Final.

Set 1 started with strong play from both teams testing the others defensive line ups, looking for weaknesses and trading point for point until 10-10. The Rebels struggled to put the ball on the floor as Malory played their best defence of the year, giving Nathan Fullerton, England National team and Malory player the opportunity to score points. The Rebels libero Lefteris Ioannou’s theatrical defence wasn’t enough to keep the team from Essex in the set and Malory won the set 25:17

Before the second set commenced, Coach Porter reaffirmed the game plan which seasoned Essex setter Euan Fraser put into practice to give the Rebels a 4 point lead from the starting serve. This benefited the two pin hitters Thomas Shatimehin and William Ragland (MVP), who dominated in offense. With Frazer providing them with one on ones it was easy work for them to score points. Malory continued their defence hustle chasing balls down which frustrated the Rebels at times, but Malory couldn’t attack back with full force which gave the Rebels another crack in offence. With a final service run from Andrew Wood, with his well known menacing float serve the Rebels grabbed the second set 25-21.

The third set started in a similar manner with each team trading point for point until 8-8 when the home crowd fuelling the team’s energy and changed the momentum of the game. Ragland went back to serve and created a 5 point lead for the Rebels, followed by clever plays by middle TJ causing a momentous 7 point lead. With this confidence boost the Rebels controlled the game with their serve receive, offence, and blocking.. Their dominance of the game allowed Fraser to utilise his middle channel with Wood scoring points in offence and when blocking. With Kyle Vom Steeg back from injury displaying why he’s one of the best players in the country. Ben Osbourne replaced Vom Steeg to bring fresh legs and immediately made an impact by recycling ball after ball in offence. Wood then again displayed his well practiced serve and aced the Malory team in a 5 point service run shutting down the 3rd set 25-15.

The performance at the end of the 3rd set fuelled the Essex fire, with Wood displaying his football skills, Shatimehin, Fraser and Ioannou chasing balls down and Shatimehin scoring an ace, the Rebels built a 6-1 lead. With the pressure building for

Malory, their serve receive unit crumbled which put pressure on Fullerton to attack from difficult positions and therefore caused him to make mistakes. Wood then increased this lead to 12-3 by abusing their faltering serve receiving unit, allowing Vom Steeg and Ragland to have their own blocking party on front court as Malory struggled to fight their way through the formidable American wall. Half way through the set Osborne returned to the court for Vom Steeg and continued to make smart offensive decisions. The writing was on the wall for Malory as their last two serves of the game both went out.

After the game Coach Porter said “Today was a critical win for us. I’m proud of how the team supported each other and stayed cool under the pressure, and in turn celebrated each other’s successes.”

Essex Rebels Team Huddle
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