Horndean make history to join exclusive club

The successful Horndean team
The successful Horndean team
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 have etched their name into National Volleyball League history.

The club completed the 2011-12 division three south season as worthy champions – and did it in style after ending the campaign undefeated.

The unique double sees them join an exclusive list of clubs to have reached such heights.

And it came to fruition on the final day of the season, with Horndean winning their two remaining games against Newmarket and Dartford.

Competing at Newmarket, their hosts sought to make the most of Horndean travelling without many of their big hitters for the double header.

But it was the visitors who stormed out of the blocks first, with good serves from Laurent Fauville and clinical finishes from spikers Festus Nfor and Willard Hans Shongue ensuring a 25-18 first-set triumph.

Nasser Ssemuwemba then joined the fray – and he made an immediate impact as he relentlessly pounded Newmarket’s hapless defence to take the next two sets 25-15 and 25-19 to secure a 3-0 win.

Those efforts earned him the man-of-the-match award but Ssemuwemba was quick to praise the efforts of his team-mates.

‘It is always nice when you are recognised for your individual performance but I would first prefer a team victory any day,’ he said.

‘Volleyball is a team sport and we all pull together to make things happen.

‘Therefore, I would like to dedicate my accolade to my team-mates as any one of them would have been worthy winners of this award.’

The second game of the day saw Horndean take on a well-organised Dartford team.

But they wasted no time in asserting themselves with a series of attacks through hard-hitting captain Maciej Kubis.

Horndean easily sealed the first set 25-15, before Dartford changed their tactics and responded with floating serves.

This put pressure on Horndean’s receivers, who made a number of errors that allowed Dartford to storm into a six-point lead.

The Deans then called for a time out, when playmaker Ian Towers reminded his team-mates of the accolade awaiting them.

And he led by example in the remaining set, despite only recently recovering from a bout of flu, as he notched up a number of points from the serve and cleverly exploited gaps left in Dartford’s defence.

Horndean later managed to fend off Dartford’s revival, clinching the set 25-21, before wrapping up proceedings with a 25-18 win in the final set.

Towers was named man of the match, while 14-year-old Harry Stokes also impressed.

‘I was very pleased with our performance,’ said Towers.

‘We’re going to take a little break before starting preparations for division two.

‘This is a season that will live long in our memories. To achieve what we’ve managed to achieved in a debut season is remarkable.’