IBB Polonia cruise through play-off first leg
6th May 2017
IBB Polonia London are one step closer to clinching their “double double” after a dominant display saw them take the first leg of the men’s Super 8 play-off final win a crunching 3-0 win over Sheffield Hallam.
This was a repeat of last month’s National Cup Final but unlike that match, when Hallam took the first set, this time the Sheffield side started in decidedly lacklustre fashion. After the delight of winning the first point after a serve receive error from world champ Krzysztof Ignaczak, Hallam had little to cheer. A flaky performance, riddled with errors soon saw them trailing 16-9. At 20-13 down, and with Polonia almost showing off as 2m middle hitter Phil Smith jump set one for Mihail Stoev to put away, Hallam were in danger of being blown away.
Yet somehow they dragged themselves back in, as Polonia perhaps sensed an easy ride and dropped off the pace. A defensive mix-up, an overpass (belted away by George Wainwright) and a Leon Davies-Chambers winner suddenly saw Hallam within two. Polonia captain Marius Ciortea stopped the rot but the increasingly influential Davies-Chambers popped up with two more winners to get it to 23-24. Ciortea put an end to any thoughts of going beyond 25 when he smashed one off the block to close out a set that should have been won with far more ease.
The second set started in real cat-and-mouse fashion with points traded all the way to 11-11 as Hallam displayed something more like their usual form. When Davies-Chambers again scored off the block and Ieuan Lamb blasted one past Ignaczak, Polonia looked rattled for the first time. However, that never lasts long when Ciortea is in the mood and he duly rattled off a couple and hauled Polonia into a 16-14 lead.
A crazy three minute spell then saw Hallam’s chances all but extinguished as Polonia won 6 of 7 to go 22-15 up. Hallam never recovered as Ciortea (again) and then Olivier Raynaud put the set to bed at 25-18.
The third set looked sure to bring a Sheffield revival as Hallam raced out to a 6-2 lead, looking sharper than at any point previously. However, the more that Polonia reeled them in, the more that the confidence seemed to drain from Coach Trenam’s charges. From 20 all, a tense final few minutes saw line judges being over-ruled, cards produced and coaches generally losing their cool. Hallam had a set point but Stoev produced an astonishing winner from an out-of-system play to level at 24 before a Smith block and a Lamb error put the game to bed.
The two teams will do it all again tomorrow but it will be Polonia who will sleep the better tonight. Hallam have got work to do.