Other 2002/03 reports

Opponents: Malory
Competition: National League Division 1
Date: Saturday 1st March 2003
Venue: Bacon's College, Rotherhithe
Result: 3-0 Win (28-26, 25-23, 25-21)
Headline: Historic win keeps Docklands' Championship hopes alive
Author: Douglas Barr-Hamilton


Press speculation during the week has centred on whether Docklands are genuine pretenders to Malory's National Volleyball League crown. After a thrilling match at the weekend we are probably only a little nearer knowing. Playing at home in front of one its biggest and noisiest crowds of the season Docklands played authoritative, intelligent and determined volleyball against the League champions who looked a little below par. In three close sets, they imposed their will on proceedings and inflicted a first defeat in the competition for their rivals in over two years, returning the Docklands side back to the top of the league.

Despite opening up an early 4-1 lead, London Docklands seemed a little tense during the first set and it was not long before a fluent Joe Mildred and an accurate Andy Carr pulled London Malory level and, helped by some effective blocking notably by Alex Bialokoz and Richard Dobell, they pulled away to lead 17-12. Some good play, notably from Danny Weemes and captain Albrecht Glitz, helped Docklands recover to 19-21 but it looked over after a spell of fine serving from Mildred saw him serving for the set at 20:24. But the hosts saved set point after set point; Glitz's lightening serves putting his opponents under pressure. Suddenly it was all square again. Weemes smashed off the block to give Docklands their first set point but a kill by Mildred made it 25-25. The teams continued to trade points until Martin Blake and Andy Vincett presented a perfect block to take the set 28-26. The home supporters went wild.

No more than a single point separated the teams in the second until a block from Ned Groy and Mike Lams made it 11-9. Then mistakes by Dobell and Mildred in turn forced coach Jefferson Williams to call a time-out. Some good serving by Mark Brown supported by attacks from Carr and Mildred enabled Malory to draw level again at 14 all. From then on the teams led by just one point: first one, then the other with the best and most exciting volleyball seen this season. At 23-23, Docklands seized the initiative as Groy smashed his way through the Malory block. At set point Dobell set short to Bialokoz: usually a guaranteed winner - but Blake puts in the block of his life, anticipating the move, and his side is two sets up.

Set three: starts with something different. After Glitz had opened the scoring Bialokoz evened things with a typical short attack. However the set came not from Dobell who had made the first pass but from Mildred. Thereafter the set seemed to be following a similar pattern to the second although Malory opened up a two-point lead at 5-3 with a super set from Dobell and a most delicate tip by Mildred. Thereafter, Docklands started to gain the initiative and when Vincett's disguised set was allowed to drop over the net inches from side and middle lines, Malory shoulders drooped. Jefferson Williams immediately called a time out and, although his players responded, Docklands' determination dominated and he was forced to call another at 13-19 down. Soon afterwards, Glitz hit off the block for a 21-15 lead and the supporters went wild again. Malory came back yet again and it was Ian Legrand calling time out leading 21-17. That did the trick: Weemes produced a brace of attacks then, although delayed by smashes from Morph Bowes and Mildred, Groy used the Malory block to score the winning point and the Docklands' celebrations could be heard at Canary Wharf.

Three home fixtures finish off Malory's league season and Newcastle Staffs, Sheffield or Speedwell will have to emulate Docklands if the championship title is to move across London - and even then Docklands will have to beat both Polonia in Ealing and Wessex at home. Docklands need to rely on a kingmaker but they are pretenders for real.

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