Champions defeated in Men’s Super 8s opener
2nd October 2017
The Men’s Super 8s season got off to an explosive start as Richmond Docklands defeated reigning champions IBB Polonia London.
The season’s first game at England’s elite level of volleyball, saw an epic five-set battle between the two London rivals.
The tone for the match was set in the first set as Polonia took a tight win by 27-25. Richmond did not lose heart and dominated the second set earning a 25-15 victory to level the match.
The atmosphere was electric and with over 200 fans backing their teams, the battle for supremacy continued as Polonia came back even stronger in the third. Showing the spirit and quality that made them champions last year, Polonia matched Richmond’s dominance in the previous set to take the third 25-15.
The home team were not ready to give up on victory and again momentum in the match shifted. Richmond ensured the game went to a golden set decider, clinching the fourth set 25-21.
Richmond held their nerve and forced a dramatic comeback victory with a 15-12 win in the decider. Victory was achieved through an impressive performance from the whole squad, but the Docklands MVP award went to Javier Bello.
The win also marked an incredible transition as Richmond Docklands are new club this year, as the result of a merger between Richmond VB and London Docklands.
On court Richmond Docklands captain for the day Andrew Pink, who made his London Docklands debut when match MVP Javier Bello was just five years old, said after the match: “When we took our first steps towards a merger at the end of last season, I don’t think any of us could have imagined that not only would be play our first match in front of one of the largest Super 8s crowds I can remember, but that we would beat the champions to open the season.
“It’s a brilliant result. Richmond Volleyball Club has been doing fantastic work for many years to nurture and grow the game we all love, and I’m delighted that the club now has a Super 8s team that is sitting on top of the table.
“Of course, we’ll have difficult days during the long season ahead, but we’re determined to make an impact this year on the court. The entire team wishes to thank all those involved in both clubs as we merge into one, and especially those noisy fans who came out to support their new team!”
IBB Polonia head coach Piotr Graban was in a philosophical mood after the game. He said that the new look Docklands will one of the division's stand out sides, but is sure that his team will respond positively.
"The first matches of the season always cause problems," says Piotr. "Teams have no established form and the results are caused by how each team approaches the game, or unusual attributes of the sports hall. Richmond Docklands showed that by combining their forces, the resulting cocktail of youth and experience was very good, and they will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Our young team received a lesson. I am confident we will do our homework and we will take all three points when they play at our home ground. Our fans were amazing and they certainly helped us at difficult times."
Both sides should be applauded for producing a brilliant spectacle and a great advert for England’s elite level of volleyball. No doubt the packed crowd will agree it was well worth watching.
While the Men’s Super 8s will be back on Saturday 14 October, the ladies elite starts this weekend (7 and 8 October) with six matches in the Women’s Super 8s.
For more information about the Super 8s including fixtures, results and league tables, click here.