Volleyball: Hunter and Pipes key to Wessex promotion bid

First published in Sport

OLYMPIAN Dan Hunter believes the signing of Great Britain captain Ben Pipes can be the catalyst for a Wessex Super Eights promotion push.

Hunter and Pipes, who both starred for Team GB in the London Games this summer, have both finalised deals to turn out for Wessex in National League Division One this season and spearheaded the Dorset side’s 3-0 triumph over Danes Watford on Saturday.

Former Poole Grammar pupil Hunter played professionally alongside Yorkshireman Pipes in Holland prior to the Olympics .

And GB libero Hunter persuaded his international team-mate to don the Wessex vest after the Hull-born setter landed a job at Oakmead School.

Hunter told the Echo: “I have played with Ben for years and I suggested that, as he was going to be working down here, he might as well turn out for Wessex!

“He saw the ambition and the direction at the club and it is great to have him on board.

“It’s a different level, of course. We are used to playing in front of 15,000 people abroad and we had just over 100 at the Watford game this weekend.

“But it’s a start and our roles have changed now from getting results for Great Britain to trying to develop the sport in this country.

“Ben is a massive influence and has so much experience. He has played more than 100 times for Great Britain and played professionally for six or seven years.

“He will be great for us. We should be getting promotion to the top league this year and that was the aim of the club with or without myself and Ben.”

Wessex ran away with the opening set 25-10 against Watford, before claiming the second set 25-21 and third 25-15.

The Dorset side are currently top of the National Division One standings after Saturday’s victory was added to an opening weekend triumph at Birmingham.

Wessex Ladies, meanwhile, have signed Great Britain international Vicky Palmer for the forthcoming women’s Super Eights campaign.

Poole’s Palmer learned her trade at Wessex before playing professionally in Belgium ahead of the Olympics where she narrowly missed out on a place in the Team GB squad.

Wessex start their Super Eights season against London Malory at Oakmead School on Saturday, before a trip to Portsmouth 24 hours later.

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