Category Archives: Blaze Match Reports

Impressive Win for Team Essex Men’s Cup team

Blaze won their first competitive match of the season at their new home venue at the University of Essex. Blaze played with swagger and easily revenged the cup defeat to London Baks two years ago.   

The cup match started well for Blaze with Cameron serving an ace, excellent blocking in the middle and a clever roll shot from Michael into an empty court.    

Unfortunately, at 8-3, Cameron fell badly on an ankle and had to leave the court. On came Ashley and exemplified Blaze’s strength in depth. Blaze reception was working well giving Ashley plenty of opportunity to execute the coach BK’s game plan.

TEVC raced to a 16-8 lead from a perfect pass from libero Mahlon, set and once again, clean hit winner from Alex.

London Baks, newly promoted to Div 2, had arrived with minimal squad of 8 and even at this early stage there seems little they can do to stem the tide.  It was clear there’s was quite a difference in ability.   

London Baks defence stayed determined though, forcing TEVC to win the set the right way. Such is the strength of the squad at 21-10, our new opposite Sonny Chaney was introduced. His first touch was a dominating block to the 1m line.

Blaze relaxed, reduced their error count and exerted their authority to ease away to win the 1st set comfortably at 25-11.  

Set 2 started with Cameron back on and Jermaine Miles making his first appearance. Like Sonny, his first contribution was a block to the 1m line. Jermaine then delivered a clean roll shot winner into open court and followed this up with another block. Sonny, Jermaine and Alex in the front line created a formidable defence.

However, whilst Blaze led 8-4 lead at the first break. This became a scrappy set with few rallies. Blaze are either hitting winners or losing the points through errors. Blaze won 25-15.

Set 3 started with England Junior star Joe Polumbo in the line up. Joe started his service run with an ace and, despite his young age, looked assured in the middle. Dan came on at the next rotation and demonstrated why Blaze won Div 1 last year dominating the middle with clever placement and clean hitting.

Blaze led 16-7 at the break and whilst Baks never really let their heads drop, they were unable to change the momentum of the match and were seriously “outgunned”. Alex effectively sealed the match for Blaze with a run of 7 penetrating float serves. Blaze took set 3 at a canter, 25-8.

Coach BK was able to rotate the squad and give all his players a competitive game. Useful preparation towards the start of the Super 8 NVL season.

Watch out for Blaze’s new kit. It will debut in their first NVL match next week in Newcastle.  

Making History

The final game of the season saw TEVC promotion hopefuls travel to Cardiff knowing a win will give them the Division 1 title and secure Super 8 volleyball next season. Traveling without their star talisman James Bernardi and knowing the reverse fixture was a 3-2 win for Essex, Blaze knew it would be a tough game.


Blaze started strongly pushing into an early lead with Cardiff not wanting to be left behind. All eyes turned to big opposite Gary House who along with some superb setting from Cameron Rhodes, started to score heavily through the right side. After taking an 8 point lead midway through the first set, Blaze began to take the foot of the pedal and started to make a mini comeback with some great swings from their own big opposite, Jonas Kaminski. However, another solid performance from libero Mahlon King allowed the Blaze serve receive unit to function without fault, giving Cameron full reign to set any of the hitters, all of which were on fire, scoring point after point. This carried on until Blaze took the first set 25- 21.


Going into set 2, Cardiff looked to take back control of the tie, however blaze had other ideas. With both teams siding out during the early exchanges, it was Blaze that started to resume domination with Cameron Rhodes going on a good service run scoring couple of aces. With Cardiff winning back the serve with a middle kill, it was only fitting on a perfect pass from Michael Pagalos, Joe Palombo should do the same with a big swing down to position 1. Blaze raced into a 14-7 lead before the setter swap, and introduction of fan and team favourite Ashley Toomey. Blaze’s pass receive unit started to make mistakes, causing other unforced errors throughout the team. The team were in trouble, the beacons were lit and it was coach BK who came to aid, calling a timeout at just the right moment. The team responded well, and even though the lead was reduced to just 2 points, they started to play like champions. Most notably Michael Pagolos with a big 1-1 block against their free scoring opposite. It was at this point that Cameron Rhodes was brought back into the game to steady the ship, finishing out the set 25-20.


The 3rd set started just how the last set finished, with Blaze continuing their dominance front court and spreading the Cardiff block. With Joe Palombo continuing his offence through the middle, it was the turn of Dan Northfield to show everyone what he can do with thunderous spikes all around the Cardiff court. This combined with Blaze bringing Toby French into the fray with some powerful pipes from back court for the first time in the game. Despite all this, Cardiff was keeping themselves in the game with a number of good serves keeping Blaze out of system. Blaze managed to keep out in front until 19-19, when Toby French went back to the service line. Altering from his usual Jump spin to a float serve all but assured the serve will be in the court. A net touch on the block from Cardiff gave Blaze the point, 20 -19. A rare hitting error from their opposite took the score to 21-19. Time-out called by Cardiff. Despite the pressure or knowing the Division 1 title was now only 4 points away, everyone from Blaze knew their jobs  and some wise words from coach BK allowed the team to relax on court. A great piece of defense from Cameron Rhodes kept Blaze in the rally forcing a Cardiff hitting mistake, 22-19. An unstoppable swing from Gary House through the outside brought it to 23-19. And then due to something said to the referee, a yellow card was shown to Cardiff. Now a block from Gary House that a scrambling Cardiff team couldn’t get back over. 24-19. Then an air of confusion set around the hall. Cardiff received a red crd, giving Blaze the point they needed to win the game and to win Division 1.

Blaze are now the first ever Essex based Men’s team to reach the Super 8’s

A big thank you is needed for everyone who ever came to support one of our home games, who ever came to one of our fundraising events, to both Coach BK and his assistant Sean Poole, and especially to our sponsors Wibblers Brewery, Self Gym, The Ace Day, Stephen Rosser Accountants, The Boswells School and The University of Essex who all gave invaluable support over the duration of this season.




Essex Derby Delight

The final game of 2016 brought the 1st Essex derby of the season against Tendring. With both teams missing players through injury and holidays, it was certain to be a close and fiery encounter.

Tendring made a strong start and looked determined to end Blaze’s unbeaten streak. Blaze’s serve receive were struggling with the powerful Tendring serve. Luckily for Blaze, an old Tendring libero had switched alliances this season and took charge of the passing, and mid-way through the 1st set, Chester Searle was giving all options to the setters. And with this, another former Tendring player who was rarely used at the club had also switched to Blaze and that would be Cameron Rhodes. The setter that has been a stand out player for the team during the first period of the season took to the court with a point to prove, and he certainly did that. A cagey 1st set ended 22-25 to Blaze.

Blaze really took the momentum into the 2nd set and with a high quality serves resulting in many aces, stormed into an early lead where they will stay for the rest of the set. Cameron Rhodes was using all the offence available to him giving the Tendring blockers no chance of being able to tell where it was going next. Then fan-favourite setter Ashley Toomey entered the game. He needed no warming into the game and the young setter quickly introduced himself by using veteran James Bernardi in the middle. And from there, Blaze cruised to a 2nd set victory with the score 18-25.

The 3rd set gave Ashley Toomey an opportunity to start the set and continue the fine form he shown in the 2nd. Tendring tried to rally the troops and give their home support something to celebrate to no avail. With Blaze taking control of the 3rd set after the technical time-out. With some big swings from Kieran Good and Tobias French from either side. And with a final kill block from James Bernardi finishes the set 19-25 and the game 0-3. This win take Blaze to the top of the table and their unbeaten record still intact!

A great overall game from both sides really showed the quality of volleyball we have in the county and we are all looking forward to the reverse fixture in the New Year.

We would also like to thank everyone for your support over the first part of the season and we look forward to seeing how far this Blaze team can go.

MVP – Mahlon King

Blaze Almost Extingushed

Sunday 11th December brought the toughest game of the season so far for Essex Blaze. Cardiff had a disappointing day before losing in 5 sets to Richmond and set out to take a victory home with them against the only unbeaten team in Division 1.

Blaze started off poorly losing a run of points and couldn’t cope with the strong serve coming from Cardiff. Coach BK brought some calmness across the team and Blaze started to make their way back into the set from some big swings on either side from Kieran Good and Toby French. However, this was not enough and Blaze lost their 2nd set of season 21-25.

Blaze were fired up in the 2nd set to correct everything that was wrong in the 1st. The serve receive started to function properly with libero Mahlon King taking charge, and everything else just fell in place. Our service pressure started to trouble Cardiff, especially with Chester Searle coming from the bench getting an ace. And with this, Blaze took the 2nd set 25-21 and levelled the game.

The 3rd set started slowly with neither team wanting the other to get the advantage. With some big blocks and the middle slowly becoming more of a threat for Essex. Blaze began to pull away from Cardiff and created a big lead. However, complacency set in and it allowed Cardiff to bring themselves back into the game. Fortunately for Blaze, the lead was enough to see out the set 25-22, and take the lead 2-1.

Going into the 4th set, Blaze were confident on securing victory this set. However, Cardiff had other ideas and wanted to take it to 5 sets. Michael Pagalos with some smart swings through the outside kept the score for Blaze ticking over but Cardiff had too much with their middles working well.  Unfortunately, Blaze’s block just couldn’t stop the Cardiff offence and Cardiff levelled the tie 2-2 with a 4th set victory 22-25.

Going into the 1st five set game of the season, and with Blaze’s undefeated record under threat, nerves were high. And Blaze made 2 poor mistakes at the start of the set before coach BK called a quick time-out. His calm words had a very good effect over the team and from this time-out, Blaze took the next 5 points. Some big swings from Toby French on the wing with some unforced errors from Cardiff meant at the change of ends, Blaze were in pole position. However, a motivated Cardiff brought themselves back in the game and took the lead 8-10. Some errors from both sides and some clever middle hits from Cardiff gave them an 11-14 lead and 3 match points. Perhaps unfortunately, this is when Blaze decided to play their best volleyball. A perfect pass from Mahlon gave Cameron the perfect opportunity to set middle which allowed Daniel Northfield a big swing and 1 match point saved. An overpass from Cardiff gave the experienced James Bernardi an easy kill to save yet another match point, 12-14. Another poor pass from Cardiff meant a free ball to Blaze Libero Mahlon King, which resulted in Toby French using the Cardiff block to score the point, 13-14. 2 aces in a row from Kieran Good gave match point to Blaze, 15-14. A good shot from the Cardiff outside gave them a lifeline and levelled the game 15-15. Another kill from Toby French gave another match point for Blaze. Finally, a unfortunate tip into the antenna from the Cardiff outside meant the set went to Essex 17-15 and the game 3-2.

This was a great game of volleyball from both sides and we here at Team Essex Volleyball cannot wait for the return fixture in March to play Cardiff again.


MVP: Toby French

Battle Of The Unbeaten Teams

Sunday 20th November brought Blaze’s 3rd game of the season. Their opponents were the only other unbeaten team in Division 1, Leeds. Unfortunately, libero Mahlon fell ill the morning of the game so did not travel with the squad on the long journey north. However, this gave the new, star signing Chester Searle his first run out as Libero for the team.


Blaze started strongly with some big early hits through both wings, powering their way to the first technical with an 8-4 lead. Leeds fought back through some strong attacks themselves and forced a tight finish to the 1st set. Blaze fortunately had enough fire power to finish of the set 25-21.


The 2nd set started in familiar fashion to the 1st and Blaze quickly reached the first technical time-out. Captain Kieran Good showing the rest of the team where the gaps in Leeds defence. The 2nd technical time-out arrived quickly with a 16-12 lead for Blaze. The lead began to shrink with Leeds really improving their play and getting some strong blocks. With the score locked at 22-22, Tension in the game was high with both teams not wanting to make the mistake that could potentially lose the set. So the Blaze middles decided to step up and take control. The experienced James Bernardi with some very tough serving combined with the athleticism of Daniel Northfield getting some crucial blocks and getting the winning hit, ending the set 25-23


The momentum that Leeds got at the end set helped them race into an early lead in the 3rd set. With Leeds winning at the first technical 6-8. Leeds carried their lead all the way to the second technical. Some great rallies were seen with both teams playing amazing defence. Leeds extended their lead to 18-22. Time-out called from Coach BK and some words of wisdom shared inspired Blaze to fight back to 23-23. Blaze then managed to get their first match point of the game through another hit from Kieran Good. Unfortunately a breakdown in communication in Blaze’s defence saved Leeds for now. It continued like this for another 4 points with Blaze losing 2 more match points. Until setter Cameron Rhodes delivered 2 more perfect sets to Tobias French on the wing to win the set 29-27 and the match 3-0.


Blaze are now the only undefeated team in Men’s Division 1 and will look to continue this run on the 11th December at home against Cardiff Celts.


MVP – Kieran Good

LOTR Tale of Victory

In a hole in Essex there lived a team of Hobbits. It was know as the shire of Chelmer’s ford. Little did they know they would be going to battle so close to their home… it would be know as the battle of Saint Jondor!

Sean the ranger from the north and Bk the white wizard joined the Hobbit’s fellowship to take on a the Orcs of Mordor’s black county. The battle commenced with a strong start in the passing unit, allowing for swings at the armour of the Orcs. There were penetrating blows leading from Toby and Kieran in the front-line. However, the orcs fought back! The beacons were lit and reinforcements from the corner of Gondor stepped up to the plate and Chester delivered exactly what was needed. The set grew closer to a conclusion; nevertheless, the strength and bravery of the hobbits shone through. The hobbits took the set 25-21 with some wise hitting… Bk he white must have thought them well.

Going into the second set the hobbits started to relax and enjoy taking down the orcs. The pass stayed strong and allowed Cameron to set up some head-shots by Dan and Toby. Consistency was crucial and Mikey and James continued to keep the Orcs on the back foot and retreating to the fires of mount doom. When the orcs tired to attack the Dwarf of Defence that is Mahlon King was too resistant. The Hobbits could smell victory! Set two 25-14!

The end was neigh. However, Sauron appeared in the stands! Despite this the Hobbits did not fear him and continued to control the strategy and dynamics of the battle. The Orcs fought back and occasionally broke through the two towers of the block. Nevertheless, the Hobbits fought back killer sword tips from James were imperative at crucial times. Once a again the horn of Gondor was ringing out and Stu the brave came on to deliver some killer blows. Wing hitters were peppering the Orcs with body shots and took the Hobbits to a good position. However, the Orcs wanted to take the battle to dawn! The Hobbits regained composure and Toby and Dan beheaded some Orcs and the battle was won! Final set score 25-20! 3-0 to the hobbits!

The end.

Daniel Northfield


Saturday the 8th of October brought the 1st game of the season for Blaze, despite travelling all the way north to play Newcastle Staffs, confidence was sky high. With the new recruits Tobias French, Cameron Rhodes and Chester Searle impressing in pre-season, the team were looking to them to continue the great form showed by the team at the end of last season.

With Captain Kieran Good missing the game, all the team had to dig deep to win against an experienced Newcastle Staffs. The team started strongly racing into an early lead reaching the first technical time-out with the score 8-2. Unfortunately, Newcastle made a large come back and lead all the way before taking the set 20-25.

The 2nd set seemed to bring the best in Cameron Rhodes, the former Staffs player ran his offence with precision and speed and gave all his hitters the best opportunity to put the ball away, with middle Daniel Northfield standing out. Blaze took control right from the off and with Stuart Coussins and Michael Pagalos swinging intelligently through the outside, Staffs couldn’t cope with firepower Blaze had to offer and Essex managed to take the 2nd set 25-20.

With the momentum with Blaze, they started strongly again. Despite a minor blip in the middle of the set. BK made some smart substitutions, bringing on Chester Searle to stabilise the serve receive and bring some impressive defensive pick-ups. Junior player Ashley Toomey also made an appearance at the end of the 3rd set to see Blaze over the finish line and ran the offence to victory, winning the 3rd set 25-19.

Being 2-1 up, Blaze fully expected to finish off the job. And like the previous 3 sets, ran off to an early lead. With a 7 point lead over Staffs, Blaze thought they the set was theirs. But staffs made a very big comeback bringing it back to 19-19. Time-out from BK allowed the team to re-focus and raced to a 4th set and game victory, 25-21.

BK said afterwards “Going to game I had nothing but hope that the team would execute. They did exactly that and made the game very competitive.”


MVP = Tobias French

Blaze at the London Volleyball Cup 2016

On Sunday 11th September, both our Blaze and Trinity teams made their way to South West London to play in the London Volleyball Cup. With a few weeks of pre-season under our belt, it would be interesting to see how we would fare against some top Super 8 teams.

With a Team Essex debut for Chester Searle, a first Blaze appearance for Joe Palombo and a return for setter Cameron Rhodes. Blaze started strongly against London Docklands, a team that finished 5th in last years Super 8’s. The first set was a tight encounter with both us and Docklands looking to make a statement with the other teams watching but it was Blaze that came out on top, winning the first set 26-24. With the nerves calmed after the 1st set victory, Blaze looked to push to a straight sets victory but it was not to be, the experienced Super 8 team showed their authority and claimed the 2nd set 19-25. Coming into the 3rd and final set. Following some wise words of advice and encouragement from Blaze coach Branislav Kovac, Blaze went on to claim the 3rd set and the match against London Docklands 15-10.

Following victory over London Docklands, Blaze went on to beat Division 2 side New Forest 2-0 (25-23, 25-23). And up next was Malory Eagles. Yet again, Blaze managed to push a Super 8 team to a 3rd and decisive set after Blaze won the 1st 25-23 and Malory Eagles bounced back to claim the 2nd set 30-28. With the match well underway and the majority of the crowd choosing to watch us rather than an all super 8 encounter between London Lynx and London Docklands, shows the level of performance of our team. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Malory showed their consistency to win 9-15 in the 3rd set.

Our final game of the day was against another Super 8 team – London Lynx. Despite some great points from both teams, it was clear that the 4th game of the day took its toll on our guys and fatigue had set in. Playing with all they had left, Blaze eventually fell to a 0-2 defeat (19-25, 19-25).

Also, this was the last time (for now) that we will see Lawrence Russell is a Team Essex top and we all would like to thank him for the all the years he has put into playing his best for this club. We wish him all the best up in Sheffield where he is going to university.

Overall it was a 3rd placed finish for Blaze and a huge congratulations is needed for everyone who took part. Also a big thank you is needed for Malory Eagles for hosting such a great tournament.


Blaze VS New Forest

Blaze VS New Forest

Manchester Marvels vs Essex Blaze

Team Essex Blaze made the long trip north to face newly promoted Manchester Marvels. Missing their coaching staff and 3 members of the squad due to international duty, Team Essex knew they had a hard challenge ahead of them.

The first set started terribly for Essex. The team could not set up an effective attack and soon found themselves 9-0 down. Essex then managed to settle and traded points with Manchester but ultimately was unable to overcome the large deficit losing the set 25-17.

The second set started in the same fashion as the first finished with both teams trading point until the teens. Essex then managed to pull 4 point ahead. This lead was maintained until the end of the set to level it up at 1-1, aided by some spectacular defence by Ian Bailey.

In the third set the pattern of play was similar with both teams regularly siding out. This time however it was Manchester that managed to pull ahead near the end of the set to take it 25-21.

In the fourth set Essex’s passing unit fell apart with Manchester applying pressure on the outside hitters and avoiding the libero Mahlon King who had been passing very well. This led to Essex going 7-0 down, a position from which they were unable to recover, losing the final set 25-17.

This was a tough defeat for the team as they know they didn’t turn up and perform. Something they will be looking to rectify next weekend as they face both Manchester and Black Country at home.

MVP: Mahlon King

Team Essex Blaze vs Coventry and Warwick Riga

Front Row: Dan Sach, Kieran Good, Chris Frost, Andy Saward, Mahlon King Back Row: Sean Poole (Asst. Coach), Laurence Russell, Matthew Ketley, Zac CHambers, James Bernardi, Ian Bailey, BK (coach)

Front Row: Ben Laing, Dan Sach, Kieran Good, Chris Frost, Andy Saward (Captain), Mahlon King
Back Row: Sean Poole (Asst. Coach), Laurence Russell, Matthew Ketley, Zac Chambers, James Bernardi, Ian Bailey, BK (Coach)

Team Essex Blaze kicked of their league campaign against Coventry and Warwick Riga. A team that last season beat Blaze 3-2 on both occasions they met. This coupled with a disappointing early exit from the cup two weeks prior meant that Essex were taking nothing for granted and expected a very tough match.

Essex started the game strongly, with the passing unit working effectively allowing young setter Matt Ketley to run the offence. With Warwick’s middles having to commit block on James Bernardi and Ian Bailey the wing hitters were often left with one man blocks allowing them to attack with great efficiency. With some good defensive pickups and the only real weakness and source of Warwick’s point being service errors Team Essex built a commanding lead by the first technical time out. Essex maintained their focus and with vocal support from bench and coaches extended their lead to comfortably win the first set 25-12.IMAG0219

The Second set started where the first set left off. With Dan Sach replacing Ketley in the setting position the distribution of ball and offence remained strong and Essex quickly built up a substantial lead. Around half way through the set Zak Chambers replaced Andy Saward through four. Warwick then upped their service pressure targeting Chambers and managed to get on a small run of points. The passing unit then managed to get on top of Warwick’s serve and were siding out consistently with some great offence from Kieran Good in particular. Essex then ran away with the set to win it 25-17.

The third set saw Chris Frost back from playing in France for a few years replacing Mahlon King, who had a very solid passing performance throughout the first two sets. Team Essex again built a lead early on with some great blocking led by Bernardi and Russell. Chambers extended the lead further by going on a long service run hitting mIMAG0222ultiple aces. Ben Laing replaced Russell for his Team Essex debut and brought bringing great energy to the team and put in a solid performance. Essex secured the 3-0 win with a set score of 25-14.


This was a strong team performance for Blaze as they played with great maturity despite being a relatively young team. The performance was clinical, with very few bad errors and everyone contributing positively. The team is now looking forward to their next match against Solent who have come down from the super 8s and also managed to secure a win in their first game of the season.

Coach BK quoted “I was both excited and anxious before Blaze’s first league match but the guys made it a very enjoyable experience. The whole squad showed good confidence, team work and most importantly good volleyball. We will go one game, one point at a time but today was was a very important first step and the team executed well.”


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