U18 boys impress on national stage

Having achieved fifth place in the U18 Men’s National Championships, Exeter Storm were invited to the Volleyball England U18 Grand Prix event, for the top eight teams in the country.
At the first of two weekends in Kettering, Exeter Storm made a respectable start to the campaign. Their first match was against a very strong Wessex LeAF side. Storm knew they would need to play at a high tempo and keep errors to a minimum, to have any chance of winning. The setter, Kyle Mitchell, linked up well with his middle hitters, Dom Garside and Rowan Jeffries-Tolksdorf, to blitz LeAF with devastating quick attacks.
After taking an early three point lead, it was point for point. Whichever team edged this first set would have a big advantage going into the second, in this extremely psychological sport. Exeter Storm clung to their narrow lead right until the closing stages, but at 23-21 up, they couldn’t quite kill off their opponents. LeAF’s experience showed as they won the decisive points, to pinch the set 26-24. Unable to maintain such a high level of performance, Storm fell to a 3-0 defeat.
Not letting their earlier loss affect them, Storm were brimming with confidence against their next opponents, Black Country. It was a comfortable 3-0 win, with Storm never really needing to produce their best volleyball. Black Country had two big hitters, who did their fair share of damage, but not much else in their locker. The West Country boys outclassed their opponents in all quarters, to finish the weekend in second place in their group.
Exeter Storm arrived for the second weekend needing a win against Nottingham Rockets, group leaders and finalists in the National Championships, to qualify for the semi-finals.
Nottingham Rockets had already beaten Wessex LeAF 3-1 and boasted multiple England U21 players in their line-up, but Storm showed no signs of nerves as they stepped on court.  They met their toughest opponents yet with an inspired performance, to yield the most captivating match of the competition, so far. With the Rockets captain, Ieuan Lamb, dominating the back of the court, while Leon Chambers rifled the ball down the line, Storm had to produce their best volleyball for every point. Storm found themselves in a familiar position of 23-21 up in the first set, and once again threw away their lead, to go down 23-25. Having learned from their defeat to LeAF, Storm returned for the second set with real determination and shifted up to another gear, which perhaps even they didn’t know they had. Both sides played out of their skins, but Storm deservedly took the set 25-23. There could have been few complaints had the Exeter side been 2-0 up, but at 1-1 they still had a long battle ahead. A succession of errors early in the third set gifted Nottingham a substantial lead, which proved to be insurmountable. Although Storm didn’t go out without a fight, they were unable to maintain the intensity they had previously displayed, and lost 18-25 in the fourth set.
The 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Rockets meant they missed out on a place in the semi-finals and would face Richmond in a 5th/6th place playoff. Richmond proved to be a well organised opposition, with incredible defensive capabilities, so this was another tight match. Storm were always in control of the first set, but only just edged it 30-28. A more commanding offensive performance made easier work of the second set, which finished 25-14. The long rallies began to take their toll as the match progressed, with Storm having to expend a lot of energy to break down Richmond’s resolute defence. A weary Storm were unable to close out the match in straight sets, dropping the third 23-25, and Richmond would now fancy their chances. Exeter Storm dug deep for one final big push, before their involvement in the competition came to an end, and were rewarded with a 25-19 win.
Nottingham Rockets and Wessex LeAF will meet in the final next month, after semi-final wins against Boswells Blaze and Chadwell Heath, respectively.
Exeter Storm’s boys have now finished fifth in both the U18 National Championships and the U18 Grand Prix, against opposition that train five to ten times as much, receiving plaudits from match officials, spectators and opposition coaches throughout both competitions. With the national junior competitions over for the season, some of Exeter Storm’s players still have the Inter Regional Championships to look forward to, where they will be representing the junior SW team.

Fifth in the Country!

 

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Exeter Storm has finished fifth in the entire country, after making its debut appearance in the Volleyball England U18 Men’s National Championships.

 

In the ‘last 8’ of the competition, at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering, they were placed in a very evenly matched pool of four teams, with The Boswells Blaze A, Ernest Bevin College and Newcastle Staffs A. Exeter Storm started with a narrow defeat to Boswells Blaze. Far from being overwhelmed, Storm felt they could have defeated the defending champions on another day. They went on to beat Newcastle Staffs in their next match, with spells of real dominance. Each team won one and lost one in the first two rounds of matches, so victory against Ernest Bevin would earn Storm a place in the semi-finals. Exeter Storm gave away a big lead early on in each set and both times clawed it back, only to lose the decisive points. A 22-25, 23-25 loss ended their run in the competition.

 

"I am very proud of the boys who came to Kettering and those who have featured throughout the competition. Slightly disappointing that we couldn't make the semi-final, but the improvement is outstanding and very apparent as we went toe to toe with all the teams within our group, including Boswells who won the competition last year." said Danny Lewis.

 

Qualifying for the ‘last 8’ of the competition was a fantastic achievement, as Exeter Storm was one of the only teams to qualify that wasn’t representing a national volleyball academy. Competing with every opposition they faced and finishing in a very respectable fifthplace, after less than three months together as a team, shows the talent and dedication of the players and coaches.

 

Exeter Storm has been invited to Volleyball England’s pilot U18 Grand Prix event, in the New Year, to compete with the top teams at the National Volleyball Centre once more. Ben Fairweather declared, “Although fifth place was a huge achievement, we will come back stronger, with the confidence that we can beat any team on our day.”

 

 

Kettering Here We Come!

 

Exeter Storm has qualified for the last 8 of the Volleyball England U18 Men’s National Championships.

 

The Exeter Storm U18s were up against even tougher opposition than in the previous round, but it was evident that they had been training hard over the last month.

 

Following an early start to travel to LeAF Academy, in Bournemouth, Exeter Storm faced St. Thomas More Lynx first. Starting confidently, Storm had a healthy nine point lead midway through the first set. Complacency crept in, allowing Lynx to narrow the gap late on and build up their confidence ahead of the second set. Lynx stepped up another gear after the interval, with strong attacks from their outside hitters, to force a third set. Knowing that defeat would jeopardise their chances of qualifying for the next stage of the competition, the Exeter boys dug deep to regain their earlier form. The deciding set was tight, but Storm finished as deserving winners.

 

Wessex LeAF B, who they had already defeated in the previous round, had strengthened their team by adding several experienced players from the LeAF Academy squad. Despite the bigger block and stronger attacks, Exeter Storm picked up everything that was thrown at them and bombarded the opponent’s court relentlessly. The setter, Kyle Mitchell, was able to unleash the middle hitters, due to improved passing accuracy and the more fluid transition between defence and attack. A succession of kills from Dom Garside helped the team to take the first set in style. Wessex put up more of a fight in the second set, but was always second best to a Storm team that was firing on all cylinders.

 

Qualification was secure with a game to spare, against Wessex LeAF A; the favourites to win the whole competition. LeAF’s consistently strong serving nullified the Storm attack, preventing them from ever getting a foothold in the match. If Storm had been as sharp as in the second match, they could have put far more pressure on Wessex LeAF A, but there was no shame in defeat against a squad of full-time academy players.

 

The last 8 teams will meet next month, at the National Volleyball Centre, in Kettering.

From left to right, back to front: Danny Lewis, Elliot Lipscombe, Nathan Crockwell, Dom Garside, Ben Fairweather, Filippo Siviero, Kyle Mitchell, Luca Lavric (not pictured: Krzysztof Ozarski).

 

Storm Juniors Reach Last 16

 

Our junior team has progressed to the last 16 of the Volleyball England U18 Men’s National Championships.

 

Coaches Ben Fairweather and Danny Lewis led the team out for its first taste of competitive volleyball, against the considerably more experienced Academy of Beach Sports and Wessex LeAF B.

 

Storm won the opening set against Academy of Beach Sports, but slumped to a 2-1 defeat, after a loss of focus mid-way through the match left them with too much ground to make up.

 

Against Wessex LeAF B, they once again took the first set, but began the second set slowly.  At 1-1, knowing that they were within touching distance of qualification to the next round, the team stepped back on court with real purpose and focus.  With precise passing and clinical attacks, they romped to a comfortable 15-6 win in the third set. Full coverage is available in a dedicated article here.

 

The next round will take place in Bournemouth, on 9th November.  Exeter Storm's opposition will be Wessex LeAF A, Wessex LeAF B and St. Thomas More Lynx.

Junior Sessions Underway

 

18 months on from the birth of the men's team, we now have junior training sessions, for ages 14-18.  With two enthusiastic Level 2 coaches on hand at every session, we cater for all ability levels.  The sessions are off to a healthy start, with more than 30 junior players having attended so far. 

 

We are actively seeking new additions to our junior squads, whether experienced or novice players. Training takes place at the Exeter College sports hall, in the Hele Road campus.

 

Storm U18 Ladies:   Tuesday  18:00 - 19:30

Storm U18 Men:      Thursday 17:30 - 19:30

 

Please contact us if you require additional information.