Perfect Horndean are on the up

Marcus Russell in action for Horndean against Newmarket at the Mountbatten Centre Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120869-3)
Marcus Russell in action for Horndean against Newmarket at the Mountbatten Centre Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120869-3)
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HORNDEAN are the 2011-12 National Men’s Volleyball League division three south champions.

They celebrated victory on Sunday after thrashing both Newmarket and Dartford in straight sets at the Mountbatten Centre.

The wins also meant Horndean have now secured deserved promotion to division two, with two games to spare, ahead of rivals Team Southampton in second.

Horndean have simply been unstoppable in the league, their double success on their home patch making it 13 wins from 13 games this term.

The team, which was formed only last year by Ugandan international coach Nasser Ssemuwemba, have enjoyed an extraordinary season that has seen them lose only one single set so far.

And if Horndean continue their fine form by winning their final two matches – a triangular return leg away to Newmarket and Dartford on Sunday April 1 – they will match the feat of top teams like Malory Eagles by going through an entire National League season undefeated.

‘While the statistics are impressive, they merely highlight the superb work and dedication put in by all the players and support given by the Horndean Volleyball Club committee,’ said player-coach Ssemuwemba.

‘We’re very happy and pleased that our debut season has turned out to be a memorable one after winning the league and getting promotion.

‘But it would not have materialised had we not had a committed bunch of players, plus the trust and support from Pompey Sports & Education Foundation who helped set this club up.’

Throughout the season, Horndean have consistently demolished rivals with a blend of powerful, yet intelligent, volleyball with an attacking threat coming from all positions on court.

Knowing two wins would seal promotion, they got off to a flier against a stubborn Newmarket.

It was ever-reliable prolific spiker Marcus Russell – now turned jump-serving maestro – setter Benoit Royer and middle attacker Willard-Hans Shongue who led the onslaught as Horndean steamrolled their visitors to triumph 25-12 in the first set.

The hosts were given more of a challenge in the next two but captain and man-of-the-match Maciej Kubis ensured they wrapped up victory with a 25-20 and 30-28 margin in the final two sets.

Kubis said: ‘They really pushed us so hard in the third set.

‘But I was always confident that the pride we possess not to lose another set to any team in the league would eventually see us through.’

It took Horndean only 50 minutes to see off Dartford in their second match of the day.

Play-maker Ian Towers was the architecture of the visitors’ demise with a combination of both quick and outside combination sets.

It was spiker Festus Nfor who took the man-of-the-match plaudits, though, for his all-round play.

He dedicated the accolade to the whole of his team. And team-mate Shongue has warned Horndean will be even more ruthless for their final two matches on April 1.

Shongue said: ‘Even though we are already champions, we are not going to ease off.

‘Our target is to finish the league undefeated and we shall go out with all guns blazing at Newmarket.

‘I would like to thanks all the players, the coach, Horndean club officials and all our partners for their incredible support and hard work.

‘It’s been a job well done. Bring on division two.’