Ashcombe Achieve as Amazons fail to deliver


Ashcombe Volleyball Club Won the Volleyball England National Shield on Saturday defeating Chester Amazons in the final 3 sets to 1 at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering.


With James Clow unavailable to coach the side, Freda Bussey took the reigns on the day to lead a talented team out at the showpiece event. Despite being without regulars Karen Rossi, Katy Begley and Rachel Higgins Ashcombe took to court with a strong line up that included England Junior Lydia Goodwin and the powerful Deirdre Wilson.


Ashcombe began brightly to take an initial 5-3 lead before Chester stormed ahead to 8-5 at the first Technical Time Out, thanks in part to awesome serving from Vanessa Barry. There were some really long fought out rallies due to excellent defensive play from both teams but still Ashcombe struggled to get into a fast rhythm that would suit their game. A mistake by Ashcombe gave the Amazons set point at 24-22. Ashcombe then powered a hit down the line which went out to give Chester the first set 25-22.


Wise words from Coach Bussey saw a completely different Ashcombe come onto court in the second set. Captain Carol Fogarty served low and fast to take Ashcombe to an 8-2 lead, picking up the pace which played into Ashcombe’s hands. Some committed blocking from Chester couldn’t prevent a number of well-placed spikes from Ashcombe’s Wilson and Celine Rudd extending the Dorking sides lead. The Amazons then got back into the game and closed Ashcombes’ margin to 13-6 before Wilson again coming to the fore with some great defensive work and launching some penetrating backcourt hits as Ashcombe climbed to a 20-12 lead. Ashcombe then took the set 25-14 to level things up thanks to more fine work from Fogarty, this time hitting an unreturnable ball.


The third set began with a number of long rallies, with the teams being closely matched throughout. The Amazons were in the lead at the first Technical Time Out by a single point before quality setting from Chester’s Jana de Brandt helped take them to an 11-7 lead. Some great hits, both cross-court and down the line, from Dierdre Wilson helped Ashcombe close the gap to 11-13 with Evelin Potocnik backing her up with some excellent defence from the Libero. The tide soon turned with a handling error from Chester giving Ashcombe took the lead. Chester then scraped ahead again with some intelligent placing of the ball to lead 21-18. Some more superb play from Wilson and Fogarty allowed Ashcombe to draw level at 21-21 snatched the set point for Ashcombe at 25-22.


Early in the forth set Noopat Willis and Lydia Goodwin both put in some great hits however Chester took an early lead which continued until 11 all. Goodwin then produced some fierce serves and allied with brilliant blocking from Zuzana Resetarova Ashcombe gained the momentum as they levelled at 14-14. Ashcombe then played more confidently, storming forward to 21-15 thanks to a lovely roll shot from Camilla Ebbers Fabiani. A rebound off Chester’s block fell into court, taking Ashcombe to 24-16 to fight for set point. They achieved this without too much difficulty and won the fourth set 25-16; winning the match three sets to one and being crowned National Women’s Shield winners.


After such a barnstorming performance, It was no surprise when the golden ball for Most Valuable Player was given to Ashcombe’s Deirdre Wilson.


Volleyball England Chief Executive Lisa Wainwright said ‘The standard of volleyball increases year on year and this game between two National Volleyball League teams shows this. A huge thanks to all our volunteers who have organised a fabulous event today and who contribute throughout our sport.’


Ashcombe Coach Freda Bussey was naturally pleased with the win. ‘Well done to all our players who were part of the team today and those in the squad who have played throughout the season.’


Ashcombe’s Deirdre Wilson was delighted with the win and the team’s performance. ‘Today was incredible. I was blessed enough to have earned MVP, but I think the award should be MVT: Most Valuable Team. This team is a group of women who I am so lucky to be able to play volleyball with while I spend 5 months studying in England. We come from all over the world, and the one major commonality we have is our love for volleyball. The women I play with are all amazing athletes and I am honoured to call myself their teammate.’


Although not having a fixture next weekend, the season is not over for Ashcombe as they have two National Volleyball League fixtures remaining, firstly away to Herts VC on the 12th April before finishing the season at home to Oxford Students on 19th April.


Ashcombe- Agnes Abraham, Camila Fabiani, Carol Fogarty (Capt.), Lydia Goodwin, Louisa Lm, Evelin Potocnik (Libero), Zuzana Resetarova, Celine Ruud, Anri Saso, Natalia Skachkova, Noopat Willis and Derdrie Wilson. Coach: Freda Bussey Manager- Colin Bussey.