WESSEX Volleyball Club impressed as they reached the semi-finals of the under-15s boys National Cup.

Travelling to Kettering for the day of last eight action, Bournemouth-based Wessex collected wins against Newcastle and Dartford, before falling agonisingly short to title favourites Richmond.

Wessex began their pool stage against Manchester’s Urmston Grammar, who had trouble stopping the middle Wessex attack of Lucas Rijvers and Reuben Gale.

Wessex took the opening set 25-23, but the second was a different story as some of the Wessex boys lost their discipline and composure after some debatable line decisions.

Urmston won 25-18 and although Wessex fought hard to regain momentum, and with Felix Summers looking unstoppable, in the third it was just too late as they lost 11-15.

Next up were Newcastle and Wessex stormed into a big lead with a dominant all-round team display.

Callum Shamerza ensured they maintained the pressure with excellent setting and front court play to win 25-12. Newcastle switched their system and improved but found it hard to get past the backcourt defence of Ed Killen.

However, it was a few missed serves from Wessex that made the set close. Newcastle then put in five tough float serves which Wessex could not handle and the set was gone 23-25.

Newcastle took a lead in the deciding set but the younger Wessex boys, Jaden Valdes, Toby Twitchen and Austin Anokwuru kept their nerve with some consistent serving and clinched the set 25-23.

A win against Dartford would seal a semi place and the Wessex boys made no mistake with an excellent team performance 25-16, 25-13. The smashing of Rijvers, Gale and Summers was unstoppable while Rijvers and Gale blocked superbly.

Valdes kept the ball alive in the backcourt, Kacper Kobyslinki started to hit form and captain Shamerza controlled the fast tempo.

Richmond were the hot favourites for the title this year and having not dropped a set in the competition Wessex knew it would be tough especially as, with such a small squad, some of the players had had to play every point during the day.

Richmond came out firing and Wessex's serve reception crumbled under the pressure, losing the opening set 10-25.

But Wessex earned real credit as they found the energy to fight back. A good run of early serves from Summers and power middle hitting from Gale and Rijvers saw the underdogs take a big lead in set two.

Excellent backcourt pick-ups helped accumulate points and the accurate sets allowing the hitters to score points, edged Wessex towards the vital set win.

Richmond were shocked and could not do enough to prevent Wessex winning 25-19.

Now Richmond were in a fight and the final set was of the highest standard. Wessex had the pass under control and, despite a couple of errors creeping in from tiredness, reached match point at 14-13.

But pressure told, the serve was missed, momentum switched and Richmond won the next points to triumph 16-14.

Wessex U15 boys: Callum Shamerza, Lucas Rijvers, Reuben Gale, Felix Summers, Jaden Valdes, Kasper Kobylinski, Austin Anokwuru, Toby Twitchen, Ed Killen, Natan Fober. Non playing - Alfie Curtis, Riley Drake.