Sunday, 12th December was the date that IBB Polonia London played the sixth league match of the season, at home against their rivals from the north: Durham Palatinates. The visitors broke the unbeaten run since the start of the season and won after a very tight game 1-3 (16:25; 25:22; 23:25; 20:25). Despite this, the reigning champions of England still have the fewest defeats in the top division.
Following the departure of the Head Coach, the role was taken over by the Director of Volleyball Krzyś Hykiel, who had two spells as the team leader from 2007-2010 and 2012-2013 and also the Head Coach of the Pro Volley Academy Grzegorz Niski, who has returned after a break of several years from the team.
Durham play good level volleyball and in previous seasons were the second placed team in England after IBB Polonia London, and for this reason the match was eagerly anticipated. As usual the team from the north set the bar high and started the game very strongly and held total control of the first set taking it 16-25. The second set was very level after the hosts found their rhythm and levelled the game at one set all 25-22. The third set was level throughout, but it was Durham who sneaked the win taking it by a slender two point margin. The Londoners fought until the very end and came very close to taking the match into a deciding set, but the visitors were the stronger and took there set and the match 1-3.
Both teams played a good level of volleyball, and despite the result, the future looks excellent for the home team. This is because there were only three players old enough to vote in the entire squad. The youngsters from Pro Volley Academy were ably led by three senior players from previous seasons. There was very little between the two teams levels despite a chasm of experience and size.
“It was an absolute pleasure to be able to help a little from the bench once again. I applaud the young players who were never outclassed nor overawed by who they faced across the net. I spoke with a number of the opposition after the game who were amazed by the standard of volleyball played by our youngsters. The serving pressure we put onto Durham was outstanding; time and time again their setter was restricted to one option due to a poor pass, but to be fair to Durham they had the size and power to put the ball over the blockers of Pro Volley Academy and this was the only difference between the two squads. Durham have one or two players who serve with immense power, but the Academy players were not outclassed in this aspect and probably passed the better of the two teams. I am excited to be part of the future of these very talented players and look forward to defending our title in the second half of the season.” – said Chris Hykiel, IBB Polonia London Director of Volleyball and Head Coach in Sunday’s match.
It is now the start of the festive break; IBB Polonia London matches restart at the end of January. More details will be available on social media nearer the time.