Russell pleased to be back as Deans power to Shield last four

Marcus Russell
Marcus Russell
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Horndean eased their way into the semi-finals of the National Shield with a convincing win over Dartford.

The Deans thrashed their opponents in straight sets to set up an away clash with division one side Essex Blaze on Saturday, February 28.

Marcus Russell was pleased to be back for the Deans after missing three matches.

He was happy with the team display.

‘It’s good to be back and still make a positive contribution,’ said Russell.

‘That was a good, solid performance by the team.

‘In these sort of matches it’s key you maintain your own level and we did that particularly well in the first two sets.

‘We need to do the same in the semis against Essex Blaze and keep taking it one game at a time.’

Horndean were in control of the match right from the start, dominating the course of events with the serve and brilliant attacking power.

Dartford threatened a comeback in the last stages of the opening set but two superb finishes from Haakon Lie and Marcus Russell helped the Deans to a 25-15 win.

With skipper Leandros Tsikras in fine form, the Deans were even more ruthless in the second set.

They kept the visitors off balance at a buzzing Highbury College court.

And when Dartford did respond, the Deans were able to find a big block or good back-court defence to hold them at bay.

Damian Roberts and Steve Metherell hit a couple of ace serves as the home team doubled their lead.

In set three, Dartford took a 6-3 lead before Deans player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba called a time out.

The decision paid off as Horndean middle blockers Russell and Willard-Hans Shongue, who replaced the impressive Jakub Chruscicki, then hit form.

The duo’s tight blocks, plus a solid outside attacking performance from Lie and Roberts, saw the Deans seal the win 25-16.

Horndean host City of Bristol in National League division two south on Saturday at Highbury College (11am).