Dynamic Deans dart to victory

Haakon Lie and Nasser Ssemuwemba are all smiles during the win over Dartford. Picture: Mick Young (143346-05)
Haakon Lie and Nasser Ssemuwemba are all smiles during the win over Dartford. Picture: Mick Young (143346-05)
Josh Green in action for England under-17s at the NEVZA Championshi. Picture: Hamistolen Photography

Green buoyant after his first international abroad

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HORNDEAN thrashed Dartford in straight sets to move to the top of National League division two south.

It took the Deans 59 minutes to see off their visitors in a one-sided encounter at Highbury College.

Horndean now lead the pack with 18 points, two ahead of Solent II and Richmond, who have two games in hand.

The Deans wasted no time in asserting themselves very early on in the first set on Saturday.

They put their visitors under pressure with the serve, racing to an 8-3 lead at the first technical time out.

Although Dartford tried to crawl back due to the home team’s lacklustre performance in defence, it was too late as the Deans went on to win the opening set 25-14.

Player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba felt the Deans improved after a slow start.

He said: ‘We had a few hitting errors and looked a bit sloppy at the back. I think it was lack of concentration.

‘But once we calmed down, we started playing like how we practised.

‘Serving got great, hitting picked up and things came together.’

The Deans were again dominant in the second set with Marcus Russell, Haakon Lie, Damian Roberts and Stephen Metherell in ferocious mood.

They restricted their opponents to only 13 points.

Skipper Leandros Tsikras thrived on the array of options he had in attack.

He said: ‘Passing was great so it helped me to get all the players into the game and I also managed to run a few combination attacks that we have been practising. It was great.’

The Deans then made a few changes in the third set, bringing on Andreas Spyrou to replace opposite player Metherell.

They struggled to get going and were forced onto the back foot after a catalogue of individual mistakes saw Dartford storm into an 8-2 lead.

Horndean then needed a flash of inspiration and it was reliable duo Russell and Ssemuwemba who provided it, with quick middle attacks and a series of ace serves to draw level 8-8.

Willard Hans Shongue joined the fray, replacing Ssemuwemba, as the Deans regained their composure.

They defended well when needed and attacked with great skill and vision to wrap up a 25-14 victory.

Lie, who enjoyed himself out on court, finishing off a couple of delightful combination attacks, was later named man of the match.

He said: ‘I think we played some very good volleyball out there.

‘I know we had a bit of a shaky patch here and there but overall we looked fluent in attack and the defence picked up a few difficult balls.’

Russell, who together with Lie missed last week’s away win at Bristol, was also pleased with his side’s performance.

He said: ‘We knew that it was not going to be an easy match but credit to the team, they made it look easy at times.

‘Although, I still believe we should have done even better in the back court defence.

‘There are a few areas for improvement but the main target for this match was to win and move to the top of the table, which we did.

‘So the pressure is now up to the two nearest teams behind us to win their games in hand.’

Horndean’s next match will be a National Shield encounter against Suffolk-based side Stowmarket on Saturday at Highbury College (11am).