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Opponents: Warwick Riga
Competition: National League Division 1
Dates: Sunday 10th March 2002
Venue: Bacon's College, Rotherhithe
Result: 3-2 Win (19-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 15-10)
Headline: Sweet Revenge For Docklands
Author: Mike Lams


A five set thriller at Bacon's College saw Docklands move up to third place in the National Volleyball League Division 1 on Sunday. Despite a determined effort from visitors Warwick Riga, Docklands would not be knocked off course for a highest ever finish in the League. A top three place is assured if they can win their remaining three matches, and if Riga slip up again, second place beckons.

Riga started the brighter team in this match however. Lacklustre serving from Docklands was severely punished by the on-form duo of setter Phil Wyles and middle attacker John Gilling who seemed able to pass the Docklands' block at will. Indeed Gilling at times seemed the difference between the two teams as he dominated the set with backcourt attacks and strong jump serving as well. First set to Riga 25-19.

Docklands are a team that this season have learnt not to buckle under pressure, and they showed their fighting spirit in set two. With Riga holding onto a slender lead most of the way through the set, the signs looked ominous for Docklands. But they hung on, never allowing Riga to get more than three points ahead. As the set neared its conclusion, Docklands applied pressure of their own, winning some crucial long rallies and some moral boosting blocks, to sneak the set 25-22.

That this was to be a topsy turvey match was proved in the next set, as two large clusters of points saw Riga open up a massive ten-point lead. This time the tall outside hitter Kees de Hoogh did the damage, powering over the Docklands block. Docklands seemed at sixes and sevens until after the second of two tactical time outs from coach Ian Legrand. Docklands buckled down and, although winning the set was out of their grasp, set about restoring some equilibrium to the game. With all the team upping their game, and some good series of jump serves from Alexis Blair and Albrecht Glitz, Docklands made back some ground before closing out the set at 25-20.

Docklands kept this momentum going, stamping their authority on the fourth set by sailing to a 5-0 lead. Glitz and Blair showed some of their most precise hitting though the outside, while Patrick Cappellini stepped it up in the middle, keeping the Riga block guessing all the time. Controlled play and determined defence ensured that Docklands kept the advantage to claim the set 25-19, and set up a tiebreaker 5th set.

The tiebreaker generally reveals the team that can hold its nerve the better, and it looked as though Riga's defeat the day before in the Cup semi finals was helping to set their nerves jangling. Docklands on the other hand continued their aggressive serving policy and went for all their shots in the big points. Riga's confidence was already on the wane, when some incredible defensive pick-ups and a monumental block from Martin Blake in the last few points finally knocked the stuffing out of them. Docklands secured the win 15-10 and, with that, revenge for two defeats by Riga earlier in the season.

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