Category Archives: Blaze Match Reports

Early Cup Exit

Team Essex Men took on London Aces today in the first round of the cup. Ultimately it ended in disappointment for TEVC but the first run out of the season proved informative for our new Blaze coaches Branislav Kovac (BK) and Sean Poole. Last year, we lost 0-3 to Aces at the same stage but went on to reach the final of the plate competition. Who’s to say that won’t be repeated?

Mens Cup team RD 1 2015TEVC started the match slowly and was down 8-4 at the first technical. Things really didn’t improve thereafter with Aces being far more clinical at the net, taking the set 25-16.

Set 2 started well with TEVC showing more energy and kept their error count low. Also, they now had more penetration from the service line serving forcing numerous errors from the visitors. Dan Sach’s ace was a highlight. TEVC kept extending their lead and eventually took the set comfortably at 25-18.

The third set was nip and tuck with TEVC taking a more than useful lead when at 23-21 Aces took a time out. The break proved decisive as TEVC were unable to put away their opportunities and lost the set 23-25.

Set 4 saw Aces continue their solid form pulling out a 7 point lead. TEVC began the fight back and got within two points at one point but couldn’t overhaul Aces

The team was drawn from each of the mens teams with many players under 18. It was good to see our two young setters Matthew Ketley and Dan Sach, opposite Zac Chambers and middle Cameron Schultz representing the club so well.

Blaze turns up the Heat

Blaze started their 2014-5 campaign on Saturday 25th October playing away in Coventry vs Riga and followed this up with a home fixture vs Wessex Mens II.

TEVC Blaze October 2014

Front Row: Stuart Coussins, Dan Northfield, Mahlon King, Rees Warren, Kieran Good, Matthew Ketley (missing)

Standing: Darren Lewis (Coach), Michael Palago, Laurence Russell, Cameron Rhodes, Sam Thompson, Luke French, Andy Saward (Captain), Joe Houlihan

Coventry Riga had been relegated from Super 8 last season and had had a slow start to 2014-5 with 2 losses. However this was Blaze’s first competitive outing and there were numerous new players to gel together.

RIGA warm up Oct 14

The match ultimately ended in defeat 3-2 (15-13 in the 5th) for Blaze and carried a great deal of frustration. Whilst the lads played well in parts – indeed well enough to win the total points tally     109 -101 we made too many unforced errors at important times to maintain pressure throughout the match. We must now look forward to the return fixture.

Congratulations to Laurence in being named MVP


Whilst the loss against Riga felt like a game we should have won the match against Wessex turned out to be quite the opposite. Wessex had won their first 4 games in the league and were the “in form” team. The previous day they dispatched Tendring 1-3, a team that had nearly qualified for super 8 last season.

Sam started the match serving some strong penetrating serves and helped create a 8-4 lead. Blaze were benefitting from a solid passing unit and winning points across all areas of the net after the first round of serving Sam came back to the line 13-8 up. Andy Saward then took up the serving dominance taking Blaze to an incredible 25-10 score. Blaze showed real penetration from the service line and attack putting Wessex under sustained pressure. Joe Houlihan and Laurence featured highly, claiming multiple kill shots.

Wessex stepped back on court in Set 2 determined to take the game to Blaze. They cut out their errors and improved the quality of their setting and hitting. Wessex were 6-11 up and showing why they were the league leaders. However, Laurence then stepped up with 2 cross court winners. Sam then came back to the sevice line once again and applied pressure to the Wessex passing unit. Whilst Sam was intrumental in helping turn the score around to 16-12, the whole team was clinical in executing the game plan and keeping Wessex under pressure. Whilst Wessex then fought back strongly to draw level at 20-20, two consecutive clean winning hits from Luke and Andy ensured we took the set 26-24 for a 2-0 lead.

At 2-0 up Blaze was in a very good place but Set 3 started badly with performance levels dropping. We were 3-10 down before Luke fired in some penetrating serves including two aces and forced a Wessex time out at 8-10. Some great blocking kept Blaze in the set to 18-18 against a rejuvenuated Wessex. Wessex were however able to maintain their high level and eventually run out Set 3 20-25 winners.

Set 4 started as Set 1 did with Sam setting the tone with strong serving and forcing Wessex on the back foot early on. An 8-6 lead extended to 16-10 following, once again, excellent defensive play by Blaze. Blaze looked unbeatable at this point and eased the lead quickly to IMG_20141026_13141320-12 as Wessex increased their number of errors. A mini revival from Wessex was stopped by an impressive block by Sam. Blaze took the last set 25-17.


Sam took MVP hours but all the team played their part in achieving an excellent result. This is better start to the season than last year and there are two more matches within the next 9 days so let’s hope Blaze can continue their good form.



Blaze secures Division 1 volleyball for 2014-5

The Boswells Academy sports hall has been rocking lately with supporters cheering on Team Essex Blaze. Three weeks ago Blaze’s position in Division 1 looked uncertain with “must win” games building up. Since then, however, Blaze has beaten Northumbria 3-0, Lynx 3-0  and the previously unbeaten league champions Docklands 3-1. Today Blaze continued the run by beating Birmingham 3-0.

Team that beat Birmingham VC a3-0 and secured Division status

Blaze beat Birmingham 3-0 to secure Div. 1 status

Back Row: Darren Lewis (Coach), Luke French, Jack Watson, James Bernardi, Robert Poole, Andrew Saward, Toby French

Front Row: Will Ferrier, Sam Thompson, Adam Mitchell, Tom Storkey, Dan Northfield

Blaze started the match slowly and were down 8-11 before Darren had seen enough and called a time out. Although Will then hit a clean winner from the middle, continuing poor execution helped Birmingham stretch their lead to 11-16. Supporters wondered where the team that had beaten Docklands the previous day had gone.

Reassuringly Blaze came out of the second the time out more focused and through great middle play by Dan closed the gap to 14-16 whereupon Birmingham called a time out. There followed a period of the game where both teams played well. Birmingham must be commended on holding Blaze at this point to 20-20. However, there was too much penetration at the service line and power on offence to deny Blaze. The set was won 25-23.

It was hoped that Blaze would spring into action early in the 2nd set but once again they started slowly. Birmingham took the lead at 8-9 and stayed ahead until the second technical at 15-16. After the break and in line with supporters’ expectations, Blaze then upped their game. Tom had a fabulous service run including 3 aces which helped Blaze to take the set comfortably 25-20. It is worth pointing out that Birmingham were continuing to play a tight game all the way to end of the set. Set point was their first service error of the match.

Set 3 saw Blaze on the front foot. Jack started the set and immediately made an impact tipping deep to score. Rob backed this up with excellent serving and with Tom then Jack’s help at the net took the score to 8-4. A minor “wobble” saw Birmingham close to 9-8 but “normal service” was then resumed. Perhaps the best play of the match happened at 12-8. Birmingham had the advantage and were favourite to kill the ball. However, Jack dropped low to somehow pick up the ball, Toby still deep in the back court set to 4 and Rob rose to smack the ball cleanly down the line. Text book stuff. From 16-11 Blaze eased home to win the third set 25-18. Congratulations to Toby who was voted Blaze MVP.

Blaze are now one of the in-form teams in Division 1 and can look forward to their last match against Tendring VC without the threat of relegation. Tendring were considered a little fortunate to win at Boswells 3-2. Blaze hope to take revenge in the last match of the season.

Blaze take on the Danes

Saturday 8th March 2014 11.30am. The stage was set for an epic match at the Boswells Academy. Blaze had played poorly against Danes earlier in the year losing 0-3 and wanted to put that right. Unfortunately, big Rob Poole had to pull out of the match with a back injury and others were either carrying an injury or just recovering from one. Even so, it was shock to see the lads lose 0-3 (9-25, 18-25, 26-28).

Coach Darren Lewis changed the normal Blaze rotation to try in set 1 to compensate for Rob’s absence and injury worries. However Blaze barely flickered in the first set going 2-8 then 6-16 down in quick time. A time out by Blaze at 6-20 just delayed the inevitable. It could only get better for Blaze.

The home supporters cheered at the first real sparks from Blaze at the start of the 2nd set. Blaze deservedly took an early lead 6-5 following a fast reverse set by Tom. Danes then had a run of points off their best punch server and took control to lead 9-16. Blaze once again had trouble making effective blocks. Jack Watson then lead a mini comeback from the service line forcing Danes to take a time out at 13-19. However Blaze continued to dominate this part of the match closing to 16-19 with clinical middle play by James Bernardi. However Danes then rallied themselves and closed out the set comfortably 18-25.

The 3rd set proved to be the best of the tie. Blaze reception finally started to make give Sam some setting options. There were fine kills from both wings and through the middle. Blaze led 8-7. Then James hit a brace of clean winners from the middle to take the score to 16-14. An ace from Toby pushed Blaze lead up to 19-16. However, as before Blaze faltered when they should have pushed home their advantage. A time out at 19-18 tried to halt the tide turning but Danes pressed further and took the lead at 21-22. At 23-24 James stepped up to the service line and got one to land on the net and dribble over. Did this mean the gods were smiling on Blaze? Next point Jack set Toby from well in the back court to win the point and create a set point. Danes then maintained a great defensive performance to pull level. Blaze had further chances to take the set but just couldn’t get the ball down. It was an exciting set but ultimately disappointing end for the home supporters.

With only five games left to play this season, there is a real dog fight in the relegation zone. The table below shows the teams in the bottom half of the league. The bottom two will be automatically relegated; third from bottom will be in a pay off. Any three of six could be relegated. Blaze have still the play Lynx, Northumbria and Birmingham at home so maintaining Div 1 status is still in Blaze hands. Come on lads!

Position            Team                Played           Won                Lost               Points
London Lynx 2
Northumbria / Middlesbrough Academy
Essex Blaze
City of Bristol

Close but no cigar for Blaze

The weekend of 15th/16th February 2014 contained two key home fixtures for Blaze as they battle to stay in Division 1. On Saturday, they entertained City of Bristol and on Sunday London Knights. Earlier in the season, Blaze had beaten City of Bristol 3-1 away so were confident of another win. However, Blaze had been comfortably beaten 3-0 by London knights (25-20, 25-21, 25-15) in October. The key question to be answered is had Blaze improved sufficiently during the season to turn this result around?

On Saturday, the first goal was achieved with a “regulation” 3-0 win over City of Bristol. The first set was tight at 25 – 23 with much of the early play erratic. In the second set though, Blaze found a good rhythm and played with greater confidence maintaining pressure on the City of Bristol receiving team. This was best characterised by a run of 12 straight points on the Luke French serve. This encouraged coach Darren Lewis to use all the squad and ensure everyone would be well prepared for the match on Sunday.

On Sunday, Blaze faced the full squad from London Knights. What followed was a very good game with extended periods of the game when both sides were playing well.

Blaze started set 1 brightly leading 8-7 at the first time time out. Rob Poole was hitting well over and around the blocks. Blaze maintained the edge and took the lead 16-14 with a crisp hit through the middle. Further middle play helped Blaze start to dominate and they increased their lead to 21-16 and closed out the set in good style at 25-17. The home crowd had good reason to cheer the team on.

There had been glimpses of the threat from Knights and this started to emerge more consistently after the first technical time out at 8-5. Pressure from good serving contributed to Blaze error count allowing Knights to take control at 13-16 and then 16-20. A late brace of good hits from Rob and Toby helped bring the score back to 21-23 but Knights took the set 21-25.

Set 3 was remarkable for the wrong reasons. Both sides were showing great determination with the teams rarely more than one point apart trading side outs and blocking plays.

Blaze Action 1 Blaze Action 26 Blaze Action 23
Blaze Action 10Photographs courtesy of Bob Braine

Blaze Action 30

Blaze lead 16-14 at the second technical time out and later 18-16 when an “old” rotational error or so we thought was recognised. What followed was a 20 minute delay whilst the referees tried to sort if and what the problem was. At the end of the discussions the matter was inconclusive but it led to Blaze being deducted 1 point. This seemed to affect Blaze more than Knights and through receiving errors Blaze trailed 20-22 and lost the set 22-25.

Blaze reacted well to be being 1-2 down in sets, quickly building a 4-1 lead. However Knights came back once again with strong accurate hitting from their No 7.  Once again, the game was very tight with points being traded. At 10-10 Blaze played solid defence and eased away to 14-10. It was of no surprise though that Knights rallied again with some great blocking plays to pull the score back to 14-14. Once again the teams traded side outs up till 19-19 and unfortunately, rather predictably this season, Blaze was not able to maintain good form right up to the finishing line. They lost the fourth set 23-25 and match 1-3.

This was a great game to watch and played in good spirit. Blaze put in one of their better performances to ran a “top three” Division 1 side close. There are 6 games left in the season and with Birmingham beating Lynx this weekend, there is still everything to play for.  7 out of the 10 Division 1 teams could still find themselves in the relegation battle.

Blaze have a busy home fixture schedule in March; their place in Division 1 will be decided then.

Blaze so close against Lynx

Again Blaze played well in parts, indeed extremely well, but ultimately failed to take the match. Lynx must be congratulated on maintaining form at important points in the match to secure only their 6th win of the season. Despite Blaze winning more points Lynx won 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 11-25, 25,20). 

Set one started lively with long rallies and exciting pick ups. From 7-8 at the first time technical Blaze scored a notable point with James diving to secure a great pick up and Luke French securing the point from a quick middle set. However Lynx stuck to their task albeit helped by Blaze service errors. The scores were 15-16 at the 2nd technical. but stretched to 19-17 before Blaze fought back to 23 -23. Unfortunately Lynx kept their form and finished the set 25-23.

Blaze started Set 2 poorly with 3 service errors but a series of find hits from James Munro meant Blaze were still competitive at 8-7.

Up to this point Blaze had trouble building any real momentum but then a string of penetrating serves from Toby French forced Lynx to take a time out at 11-14. Better defence also contributed to a 12-16 lead which soon became 12-18. However, then the “wheels appear to loosen”. Coach Darren Lewis took a time out at 14-18 particularly as Blaze had lost similar leads in recent matches. Unfortunately the tide could not be turned. Blaze no longer threatened on offence and the set was lost 25-23 on our service error.

From the lows of losing the second set Blaze began  Set 3 on fire. A lead of 1-8 at the first technical was fully deserved.  At 1-9 Lynx used up their second time out. Blaze was finally playing to their potential and following a minor blip of 3 points lost mid set the set was won easily 11-25. Blaze won the set with minimal errors and points coming from all varities of attack. 

Inevitable Lynx struck back in Set 4 with renewed defence vigour and were quickly ahead 13-6. Blaze then struck back p bring themselves back into the game at 18-18. the away supporters made their presence known and were then hoping for a fifth set but Blaze form once again fell away and following spirited defensive pay from Lynx the match was lost.

Once again Blaze played well in parts but, similar to many other matches this season, failed to get over the line, giving up potentially winning positions. While disappointing there are lots of positives from this performance. Blaze has still to play the more crucial matches against Bristol and Birmingham.  The results in these matches are likely to determine whether Blaze will stay in Division 1 for 2014/5 season.

Warm up vs Lynx (26.01.14) - 6 Warm up vs Lynx (26.01.14) - 2 Warm up vs Lynx (26.01.14) - 4 Warm up vs Lynx (26.01.14) - 3 Warm up vs Blaze (26.01.14) - 5 Warm up vs Lynx (26.01.14) - 1



Blaze goes the extra mile to notch up second win

London Knights -16th November 2013 @Westminster College

Northumbria/Middlesbrough Academy – 17th November 2013 @ Middlesbrough College

This weekend double header away fixture took on some significance as Blaze were seeking to build on their sole win this season.  After the start to the season this was a match target for a win. London Knights had been struggling in the league with 4 losses.

Knights sole win last week was against Bristol (3-1). In contrast, Blaze had lost at Danes Watford where they showed glimpses of what they were capable of but essentially were outplayed by a more experienced and consistent team, losing 0-3.

In set 1 Blaze more than matched Knights early on, benefiting from a run of four serves from Luke French. The set was close right up to the business end when Knights eased away to win 25-23. Blaze just couldn’t convert the chances they had.

Set 2 began well for Blaze matching Knights with notable blocks from Will Ferrier in the middle. Toby French’s overhead serving created some pressure at times but couldn’t be sustained. Coach Darren Lewis had been proactive playing through various squad combinations, including a double libero set up but couldn’t help Blaze create and sustain any momentum.

At the start of set 3, again Blaze started brightly but then fell behind. At 16-8 at the second time out, Blaze had lost confidence. Knights were playing well as a team and consistent serving and great defense returning big hits from all areas. Despite this disappointing loss, there were some positives to take away; the pass reception unit had performed better than last week and will need to put in a strong performance tomorrow.

tobyWillAndyJoeLukeRob and RyanRob and Luke                Sam

Above: Blaze Warm Up

The loss to London Knights added on pressure to perform better in Middlesbrough. The team headed 250 miles North for an overnight stay at The “Spa” Hotel just 11 miles from the venue. Following breakfast at 9am, the team set off for the venue just 11 miles away.

The match started off well for Blaze. Early errors from Northumbria and three blocks from Blaze meant we reached the first time out 7-8 up. Some serving and handling errors then allowed Northumbria to match Blaze but then Rob Poole began to impose himself at the net to score some big hits to help Blaze close out the set 25-18.

In Set 2 Northumbria raced to a 8 – 3 lead. Luke French had been “playing up” and being need for Estonian matches next month this was the last set he would be available for Blaze this year. Luke started a good run of play by Blaze by smashing a middle hit which helped bring the score back to 11-10. Blaze were back in the set but Northumbria upped their game again and pulled away to 16-12. Although Blaze fought back to 24-24 but unfortunately faltered at the end to lose the set 26-24.

Set 3 started poorly for Blaze but the team then started to really play well to go 16 -11 up. All the team were stepping up to play some great volleyball ably marshalled by our setter Tom Storkey. While Northumbria still retained a threat through the middle Blaze defence was effective and forced many hitting errors. Blaze won the set 18-25.

Blaze in confident mood started Set 4 well but a higher number of hitting and passing errors from Blaze allowed Northumbria to gain control of the set and go on the win 25-20.

The loss of Set 4 was a major disappointment and with two five sets losses already this year the travelling support were nervous! Not so Coach Lewis who changed things round, bringing on Ryan Poole at 4 and moved Andy Saward to middle with Dan North. What followed was one of the best 5th sets Blaze has played. Passing setting and hitting were all finding their mark and the game was finally won in quick time in some style.

“Old” and “new” hands Toby French, Andy Saward and Mahlon King passed with a respectable average 2.35. Rob Poole was top scorer with 20 kills and 7 blocks and was awarded MPV.

The match video (first 4 sets) can be found on YouTube on our channel Here >>


Blaze eased out of second win by London Danes

Blaze travelled to Amersham to take on London Danes who currently top Div 1. Blaze had started the season in mixed form only winning one of the first three games. However both games lost were to strong sides 2-3 and with James Bernardi and Luke French joining the team for this fixture, Blaze had every right to be confident approaching this match.

Blaze vs Danes Waford Oct 2013

The game started nervously for both teams with little between them. Towards the end of the set Blaze moved ahead to lead 22-20 but couldn’t sustain their momentum. Danes came through to win it 26-24.

Blaze responded well in Set 2 reducing the error count. The team passed set and hit with greater confidence keeping Danes under pressure, Blaze had pulled out a 3 point lead by the end of the set.

The travelling Blaze fans expected to see this good form continue in Set 3 but it was not to be. The passing unit and setters were struggling and although Coach Lewis tried various timeouts, substitutions and words of “encouragement” to stop the rot, the set was lost in double quick time 18-25.

In Set 4 Blaze matched Danes early on but another poor streak of passing and Danes consistent serving, enabled Danes create a 6 point lead by mid set. However, Blaze then really started to play and passed much better cutting the deficit to 12-16. Following an exchange of points, Tom Storkey then served Blaze back into contention creating doubt into Danes passing unit. It was now Danes making the errors helping Blaze to go 23-21 up but then, rather like the first set, Danes dug in, held their nerve and edged over the line to win the set and match (26-24, 25-22, 18-25, 27-25).

This match could have easily been another 5 set thriller which reinforces Blaze’s credentials in this division. The first 3 sets are on TeamessexVC TV.

Well done to the Blaze fans who outnumbered the home team fans and supported the team so well.

Newcastle Staffs Vs Blaze

Team Essex Volleyball Club Match Report
Newcastle Staffs Vs Blaze
Date: 21/09/13 Venue: Keele University

Day 1 brought an intriguing match against Newcastle Staffs (Staffs) which last season as playing in the Super 8 division. Unfortunately injury and other commitments meant Coach Darren and four players were unavailable. Step up then Sean Poole to coach the side and talented youngsters Ryan Poole and Matthew Ketley to bolster the squad. Blaze played brilliantly in parts but lost the match 2-3 (25-23, 22-25, 13-25, 25-22, 15-10).


Back Row: James Munro, Ryan Poole, Rob Poole, Jo Houlihan, William Ferrier, Sean Poole (coach.)
Front Row: Dan Northfield, Toby French, Mahlon King, Tom Storkey, Matthew Ketley.

The first set was not always top quality volleyball. Blaze looked a little slow and through high error count contributed to the loss of the set. Blaze burst into life in the second set but only after limping to 16-9 down at the second technical time out. Who knows what Coach Sean said but there followed some memorable pick-ups and plays. Notably, big Rob blocking, top hitting from James, another Toby ace to make it 20-23 followed up by solid passing, setting and two consecutive pipe hits to win the set 22-25. Fantastic stuff.

In set 3 Staffs wilted under the pressure from Blaze. Blaze was now playing well as a team and kept balls live that in the first set had found the floor. Mahlon’s presence was growing in the passing unit and Tom’s decision making and sets spot on. Blaze serving and hitting were now consistent and making the game look easy. 3 errors from Staff closed the set.

However, Blaze started set 4 badly and quickly fell behind 8-3. Service and handling errors from Blaze meant to gap widened slightly at the second technical time out 16-10. Staffs were now playing well with strong plays from both wings and with strong vocal support from the home crowd. But typically Blaze rallied again and closed to 23-21 before Staffs finally saw the set out.

In the 5th set Blaze once again started badly. Handling and passing errors meant they were 8-2 down in quick time. There was a mini recovery when Toby’s heavy serving helped narrow the gap back to 13-10 and supporters briefly wondered whether Blaze could grasp victory but it was
not to be.

Whilst the loss was disappointing Blaze showed their potential by outplaying an experienced and strong Staffs team for long periods of the game. With a bit more consistency Blaze could have won this match. They will have the opportunity to put matters right when they entertain Staffs
at Bowsells Sports Hall at 11.30am on 19th October 2013. Let’s get along to support them.

Congratulations to Toby French who was named Blaze MVP

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