Deans suffer double disappointment

Leandros Tsikras. Picture: Mick Young (141588-04)
Leandros Tsikras. Picture: Mick Young (141588-04)
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It was a bleak weekend for Horndean as they suffered 3-1 defeats in both their National Cup and National League encounters.

The Deans paid the price for fielding understrength teams for both matches held at Highbury College and Brislington Enterprise College respectively.

‘We just couldn’t get a full team together for either of the matches,’ said Horndean’s head coach Nasser Ssemuwemba.

‘It was one of those weekends where we found ourselves short on numbers with key players missing. Very frustrating indeed.’

Horndean’s woes started at home on Saturday when they were dumped out of the National Cup by division three side Kernow.

Despite an arduous journey from Truro, it was the visitors who took the opening set 25-11.

The Deans responded, with a string of combination attacks from opposite player Damian Roberts, outside hitter Adamantios Xanthoudidis and the returning Steve Metherell.

The trio’s fine execution, together with Leandros Tsikras’ powerful jump serves, were enough to allow the home side to draw level with a 25-16 second set triumph.

However, despite valiant back-court displays from Ivan Popov and good blocks from Jack Whitlock, Horndean went on to lose the last two sets 25-22 and 25-21.

The Deans will now be back in the National Shield competition where they have a good record.

In National League division two south on Sunday the Deans were without Tsikras, Andreas Spyrou, Marcus Russell and Ssemuwemba.

This meant they travelled to Bristol without a natural setter.

Roberts had to switch to the role of setter for the contest and ultimately delivered a man-of-the-match display.

He said: ‘Among the six players that we had available for the match, I was probably the only one who could try setting.

‘So, I was asked by the coach to temporarily assume the duties of the setter.

‘Unfortunately this left us light in attack. But we had no other alternative.

‘We knew that it was always going to be a very difficult match, without Tsikras or new setter Andreas.’

Despite looking shaky, it was the Deans who stormed out of the blocks in top gear.

They surprised the home team with big blocks from Mark Byerley and Jakub Chruscicki before kingpin Haakon Lie joined the fray with well-angled attacks to wrap up the first set 25-17.

But last season’s division one outfit hit back 25-19, 25-11, 25-18 to ensure a 3-1 victory.

Xanthoudidis felt the lack of a natural setter was decisive.

He said: ‘Our energy levels dropped after a brilliant first set.

‘Our players were forced into making a lot of individual mistakes.

‘If we had a natural setter, we would have won the match.

‘But I must say that Roberts did a very good job and, maybe in future, the set we took off them might come in handy.’

Horndean face Team Southampton at Crestwood College, Eastleigh on Saturday (6pm).