Tendring Men 3 - 1 Black Country

22-25, 25-19,25-23, 25-16

Report by Erik Halberg

A brisk Saturday morning, and the even brisker sports hall of Tendring Technology College, played host to a National Volleyball League Division 1 matchup between Tendring Volleyball Club’s 1st team and the visiting Black Country 1st. Tendring burst out of the gates quickly with a cheeky ace from setter Derek Sullivan, and reached the first technical timeout with an 8-6 lead over Black Country. After the break Black Country fought their way back to take the lead after a string of Tendring passing and hitting errors, prompting Tendring’s coach Alex Porter to bring on setter Owen Lamb to reestablish connections with the hitters. Though the Lamb-led Tendring managed to close a six point deficit down to three, the Black Country squad refused to let their foot off the throttle and closed the set 25-22.

Despite their less-than-stellar first stanza of the day, the second set opened with Tendring taking a 3-0 lead after an excellent service run by Lamb. Black Country fired right back to make the scoreline 4-3 before Tendring managed to stop the bleeding of points thanks to an excellent Lamb dig that allowed hitter Erik Halberg to skip the set and go straight for the kill. The rest of the set featured a back-and-forth exchange of points between the two competitors, with Tendring pulling ahead thanks to twin 5-point service runs from captain Stewart Dove and Halberg. The set closed as Lamb set up an easy ball for middle Gary House to jump over Black Country’s block and lock up the win 25-19.

After Tendring’s rally in the second, the third game of the day marked a bloodbath on both sides of the court. Tendring raced to another early lead, reaching the first technical time leading 8-5 before Black Country again managed to equalize the score at 11:11 with serving that continually took Tendring out of system and slowed down their offense. Though he’d started the day, like all of Tendring’s hitters, struggling to find court, the third set turned out to be captain Dove’s time to shine as he banged home kill after kill to keep Tendring ahead of Black Country. Up 24-20, Tendring found themselves needing only one point to take a commanding lead of the match, yet Black Country managed to find three sneaky points in a row before Lamb and House connected once again to finish the set.

The fourth set served to prove why all wise men fear the beard of Owen ‘Giantsbane’ Lamb. With the match on the line, the hitters of Black Country began to take harder swings in attempts to chip away at Tendring’s early 8-4 lead. But Lamb contested every swing they took, presenting them with nothing but an impenetrable wall of ferocious beard and the strong yet supple hands of an elite setter. Even when Black Country’s setter managed to draw Tendring’s other blockers away, Lamb stopped the foe’s hitters by himself. Thanks to his efforts, Tendring took the fourth set and the match 25-16.