Will the Rebels be able to Bounce Back from the Defeats?
Essex Rebels Men v University of Nottingham
Rebels lose 3:1
On Saturday 18th February our Rebels men’s volleyball team took on Nottingham in a highly anticipated game. The team were looking to get back at Nottingham following a recent 3-0 defeat, and they had a new look, with first-years Cohen Banks, Tom Shatimehin and Powell Osayawah all being included in the starting lineup.
The Rebels showed impressive firepower against a resilient Nottingham side, pin hitters Shatimehin and eventual MVP Christie, in particular, leading the team in kills. Although they weren’t able to take the first set, there wasn’t a hint of panic within the squad, who were evidently preparing to turn up the heat.
The second set saw some of their best volleyball this season, with the boys improving on all aspects of their game, in particular their serve receive, allowing experienced setter Euan Fraser to run the offence with ease. Nottingham was once again persistent in defence, but they couldn’t match the hustle displayed by the Rebels, who convincingly took the set.
Set three started in a similar manner, with both teams evenly trading blows, creating exciting rallies and an electric atmosphere. Momentum shifted between the two teams, who were both at the peak of their focus. Opposite Max Norton-Steele was being called upon increasingly following an impressive showing in the prior set, and he carried that through to the third, scoring points at crucial times. The Rebels displayed an aggressive offence and unfortunately as a result accumulated errors towards the end of the set, which was the deciding factor as Nottingham took the third.
They showed composure and mental strength in the fourth, with team mood-maker Ben Osborne applying pressure from the service line and playing fantastic defence to help rack up points for the team. The opposition however mirrored this, placing serves in inconvenient places and managing to apply pressure to the passing unit. Despite this however, both teams were evenly matched approaching the 20-point mark, which is where the game turned in Nottingham’s favour and the took the set and the game.
A disappointing result for a Rebels side that deserved much more on the day, but they will look to make amends on Sunday 19th February, as they take on Newcastle Staffs at home. Let’s go Rebels!!!
MVP: Christian Christie
Essex Rebels Women v University of Nottingham
Rebels lose 3:2
The Rebels women started off offensively very strong in the first set and Nottingham struggled to cope with some big swings from their pin hitters. Defensively, they managed to keep the opposition at bay and hustled well. A great serve-receive unit was crucial for the success in the first set.
Nottingham upped their game in the second set and increased their service pressure. The Rebels had to fight hard to produce a good pass and side out. MVP Kiannah Titus was a reliable output for the Rebels setter Molly Van Essen, hitting some dangerous attacks against Nottingham. She was also stable in defence and served consistently well. Unfortunately, a late tough service run from Nottingham was enough for them to take the second set.
The Rebels set the tone for the third set with some impressive swings. Some great blocking work was shown by the Rebels and they defended well against Nottingham, who were increasing their aggression in attack. Unfortunately, Nottingham did not back off from their serve and the Rebels’ serve receive unit continued to struggle. Kate Fundafunda and Emily Priestley came on to try and stabilise the serve-receive unit but Nottingham prevailed and took the third set.
The Rebels were up for the challenge in the fourth set and managed to match the intensity of Nottingham’s serves. The Rebels service pressure put the opponents out of the system consistently which allowed them to be the better team in defence. The Rebels hustled amazingly and won the fourth set with great momentum.
An impressive effort was made in the fifth set by both teams but unfortunately, Nottingham found their flow before the Rebels. Coach Alex Chinery commented, “All credit to Nottingham who improved massively on their performance from two weeks ago. 5th sets are always tight and this time we just came out on the wrong side of it.”
Essex Rebels Men v Newcastle (Staffs)
Rebels lose 3:2
The south took on the north this Sunday in a fierce battle between Colchester’s own Essex Rebels and the robust Newcastle Staffs.
This five-set thriller was a constant wave of emotion as points were traded and sets were won, the audible atmosphere created a tense environment for the away team to compete in, but this was no obstacle for the experienced staffs’ side who returned home victorious.
Losing three sets to two and only narrowly being defeated by a 6-point deficit, the Rebels fought hard to not only battle their own fatigue from a hard away game the previous day but also rose up from losing the first set to bring round a tie-breaking fifth set.
The game saw a familiar face make his return to competition again, England senior squad member and ex-professional Sonny Chaney made his debut appearance for the Rebels and made his presence on the court very well known throughout the match.
Staffs awarded 1st year outside hitter Thomas Shatimehin MVP for his distinguished performance on the frontcourt, with some impressive offence it was clear Tom brought a confident aura to the court which he continued to validate throughout the game.
After a tough weekend for the Rebels the road ahead doesn’t get any easier. Wednesday will bring the quarter-final of their university championship where they face Edinburgh university, this critical game and equally significant match will challenge our Rebels in the form of the illustrious Polonia who will attempt to stop the Rebels from advancing to the Volleyball England National Cup final.
Will our Rebels be able to bounce back from two defeats and claim a step closer to two individual finals? Join us next week at the Essex Sports Arena to find out!
MVP: Tom Shatimehin