Other 2002/03 reports

Opponents: London Malory
Competition: National KO Cup - Final
Date: Sunday 6th April 2003
Venue: Guildford Spectrum
Result: 3-0 Win (25-23, 25-23, 27-25)
Headline: Docklands' Cup Dream Comes True
Author: Andy Hopper


London Docklands Volleyball made history on Sunday by clinching their first ever major trophy after winning the National KO Cup at the Guildford Spectrum. In doing so they inflicted only the second 3-0 defeat on London Malory in the last ten years, relinquishing them of their KO Cup crown won 12 months earlier. Although it looks as though the national league title will go the way of Docklands' London rivals, Sunday's result is a sign of the slow shift of control of English volleyball's power base away from Malory for the first time in over a decade.

This season, both the league confrontations between these two sides saw the home team win 3-0. Therefore, it was inevitable that the cup final on neutral territory would be billed as the unofficial decider for supremacy of men's volleyball in England in 2003.

Both sides started nervously, struggling to find any sort of rhythm or control over the first set. It was Docklands' Danny Weemes who made the first real impression with a devastating block on Malory's Joe Mildred, followed up by two unexpected jump serve aces that seemed to catch Malory unawares. With solid passing from Libero Alexis Blair and captain Albrecht Glitz, Docklands were able to dictate the game and opened up a crucial three-point lead. However, as the set reached its climax Docklands seemed to stutter and a couple of unforced errors gave Malory hope. However, Docklands managed to hold their nerve and a strong attack by Weemes sealed the first set 25-23.

The start of set two saw Docklands' confidence grow and they rushed into a 9-6 lead. However, clever serving from Malory's Andy Carr swung the momentum back in their favour and Docklands coach Ian Legrand was forced to call a timeout with his team 13-16 down. He followed this by bringing on experienced Polish setter Artur Kwiecinski who was able to change the pattern of Docklands' play and disrupt Malory's hold on the second set. The game remained tight but at 23-23 Glitz went back to serve for Docklands. He despatched two almost unreturnable jump serves that gave Docklands control of each rally and with Malory's defence in disarray it was left to Weemes to provide the killer punch as Docklands took the set 25-23.

Malory have dominated men's volleyball in England for over a decade so Docklands knew that they were not going to relinquish their grip on the cup without a fight. Coach Legrand reminded his players of this fact and with his words ringing in their ears they set about finishing the match in the third set. And the set started promisingly with deceptive serving from Kwiecinski and more powerful serves from Glitz, Docklands raced into a 6-2 lead. However, as expected Malory's players were not going to accept defeat and used all their experience and cunning to fight their way back into the set, eventually catching Docklands at 12-12.

The match then entered its most exciting period with both teams displaying a mixture of power and finesse, coupled with exceptional backcourt defence that kept the large crowd on the edge of their seats. Nothing could separate the sides as the set reached 23-23. The next rally was the match's longest and was littered with exceptional defensive pick-ups. It culminated in a kill by Malory's Mildred who could not control his emotions when celebrating and was subsequently cautioned for ungentlemenly conduct. This gave Docklands a cheap point and instead of facing a set point against them they had gained the initiative at a crucial time in the match. The next point gave Mildred the chance to make up for his misdemeanour but he blasted his effort long. But Docklands were unable to convert their first match point. However, a subsequent net error by Malory's player coach Jefferson Williams presented Docklands with their second match point.

Martin Blake served for Docklands and the Malory setter went back to his coach Williams on the wing. But a towering block by Docklands' Jesse Kaptein clinched the set 27-25 and the match 3-0, sending his team and supporters into delirious celebrations.

In clinching the club's first major trophy Docklands rewarded their long-suffering coach with some much deserved success. After being down in the second division three seasons ago Docklands have now established themselves as one of the best clubs in the country. Officially, the game's MVP was Docklands' Danny Weemes but it was his side's superior team performance that won on the day.


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