Opponents: Warwick Riga & London Malory Competition: Premier League Round 3 Date: Sunday 21st March 2004 Venue: Windsor LC Warwick Result: 3-0 Win (25-20, 25-14, 25-18) Malory Result: 2-1 Win (22-25, 25-16, 25-17) Headline: Docklands win the Premier League Author: Andy Hopper
London Docklands Volleyball have secured the first ever public National Premier League title with wins against London Malory and Warwick Riga. At the start of the third and final event in Windsor, Docklands held a slight advantage over their rivals having won three of their four matches so far. They faced Warwick in the first match. Three weeks previously Docklands had inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Warwick in the regular league but Warwick entered the match on the back of a 3-2 victory over Malory - Warwick's first ever win over their cup final opponents next month - and started confidently with a kill from their Moldavian international Alex Radu. However, this was the last time they would hold the lead in the first set. A series of kills from Albrecht Glitz, Martin Blake and Boris Halatchev saw Docklands open up a 5-2 lead and further service pressure from Andy Vincett helped to stretch their advantage to five points. Warwick struggled to find their rhythm but just when Docklands appeared to be coasting to a comfortable first set win they seemed to press the self-destruct button. A run of unforced errors gave Warwick some hope and the score reached 18-17. However, Docklands were able to weather the storm and a service run from Glitz closed out the set 25-20.
The end result seemed to hit Warwick's confidence and at the start of the second set Docklands moved into a 6-2 lead forcing Warwick coach Tom Young to call an early time out. His stern team talk seemed to steady the Warwick ship but they were unable to make any inroads into Docklands' lead. Then a run of four serves from Vincett, including two consecutive aces, effectively buried Warwick's hopes of a comeback. Docklands finished off the set with kills from Aaron Stolberg and Blake to take the set 25-14.
The Premier League format means that all matches consist of a guaranteed three sets. Therefore, with an unassailable 2-0 lead Docklands set about winning some valuable bonus points in the third set. Everything started well for Docklands with blocks by Vincett and Blake on Warwick's Andy Lynn helping the London side into a 4-0 lead. However, following a service error from Glitz, Tom Spijkers applied his own service pressure to help Warwick overturn Docklands' lead and go 5-4 ahead. The scores then stayed close with both teams entertaining a good-sized crowd to some high quality volleyball. It wasn't until another service run from Glitz saw Docklands take control of the set with a 17-11 lead. Despite a late surge from Warwick it was left to Halatchev to serve out the set 25-18. Vincett was awarded the MVP award for his consist setting and tough serving.
This meant that Docklands only had to pick up four bonus points in their clash with Malory. However, the game was given added significance, as these teams will contest a crucial national league decider next Saturday. Malory enjoyed the better start with strong blocking causing Docklands to make some individual errors. Coupled with kills from Joe Mildred and Steve Fee, Malory took a 6-3 lead. Two winning plays (a kill then a block) by Morph Bowes saw the score go to 11-6 in Malory's favour and Docklands' coach Ian Legrand called his first time out. Docklands were able to keep pace with Malory until a kill by Mildred and two more from Fee forced Legrand to take his final time out with his team 16-9 down. It was not until a run of serves from Glitz that his team could make the score more respectable but his side still faced their first set point at 24-20 down. The points system in the Premier League means that teams gain bonus points for reaching 15 and 22 points in a set. Therefore, it was imperative that Docklands closed the gap. A kill by Glitz gave Docklands the serve back and just one more point was needed to secure that extra bonus point. Malory's setter Tom Stevens went to the normally reliable England captain Alex Bialokoz, but Halatchev, demonstrating why he would later receive the award for being the best blocker of the Premier League, produced a devastating block to make the score 24-22. Malory's coach Jefferson Williams called a time out to calm his team's nerves and when the teams returned back onto court Bialokoz made amends by killing the first ball to take the first set.
At the start of the second set Malory enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Mark Brown making two blocks to take his side 3-0 up. But Docklands held firm and levelled the scores by 8-8. Then a block by Vincett on Mildred seemed to be the catalyst that Docklands needed and with a further block by Blake on Bowes, Docklands opened up a slender lead. This lead was extended with the help of kills from Jesse Kaptein, Glitz and Stolberg as Docklands went 16-12 up. A run of deceptively tricky serves from Halatchev put pressure on the Malory passing unit and at 24-13 Docklands had an opportunity to deny Malory even one bonus point. However, two consecutive blocks on Glitz saved Malory from this embarrassment before an error from Andy Carr finished the set 25-16 in Docklands' favour.
This second set win guaranteed Docklands their first Premier League championship but they were in no mood to let a chance slip away to inflict another defeat on their closest rivals. Docklands started well with kills from Stolberg and Glitz while an ace from Vincett gave Docklands a 5-2 lead. But two kills from Mildred helped Malory close the gap and it was all level again at 7-7. But that was the last time Malory enjoyed parity as three kills from Glitz and a service ace from Kaptein saw the score quickly reach 12-7 to Docklands. Malory made a mini-recovery to close the gap to two points but a block by Halatchev on Mildred rounded off a run of four consecutive Docklands' points to take them to 18-12 up. A kill by Bialokoz ended the run but a refereeing decision in the following point infuriated Malory and a yellow card for backchat gifted Docklands another point to take the score to 20-13. Another kill from Glitz added to Malory's woes and it was finally left to Stolberg to put away an over pass to take the set 25-17. After another powerful display Glitz was awarded the MVP award.
This gave Docklands a 2-1 victory and an insurmountable lead at the top of the table. It was left to Malory and Warwick to play out the remaining fixture to decide second place. The game was a preview of this year's KO Cup Final so both teams were keen to leave their mark on their opponents. Both coaches cannily didn't use their preferred formations during any part of the game in order to keep the opposing coach guessing. However, despite some unfamiliar line-ups both teams produced some pulsating rallies. Even though Warwick held commanding leads in the first two sets Malory were able to fight their way back to take a 2-0 lead. The third set was a much more up and down affair and Warwick were the team on the up at the crucial stage of the set and gained a consolation win 25-20.
After the presentation of the league trophy Docklands' coach Ian Legrand was delighted with his team's performance and singled out his players' abilities to adapt to different formations as one of the keys to their success. He said, "We were probably the only team in the Premier League to take advantage of the drafting system and use our new players to change the way we normally play. It was our ability to adapt to this that saw us through. It is nice to have some silverware to show for our efforts but we must now concentrate on our last game against Malory, there is no doubt that they will be looking for revenge."
captain Albrecht Glitz picked up four of the five player awards
after dominating the competition. He racked up an amazing 118 points -
over a third of Docklands' clean winners. He said afterwards, "It
is nice to receive these awards and I know it sounds corny but I couldn't
have done it without my team mates. Our victories were a real team effort".
Final league table below:
Best Server - Albrecht Glitz
Best Passer - Albrecht Glitz
Best Attacker - Albrecht Glitz
Best Blocker - Boris Halatchev
Best Scorer - Albrecht Glitz
An alternative report by Douglas Barr-Hamilton from 3Touch Volleyball Magazine.
secure mens Premier League
With all three mens trophies still on the shelf, London Docklands claimed the first at Windsor Leisure Centre on Sunday 21st March 2004. The mens season is drawing to its most exciting climax in years with three teams dominating: London Malory, London Docklands and Warwick Riga. On 17th April Malory and Riga will contest the Prosport Cup Final. Next weekend Docklands meet Malory in the last match in the first division when the winners will take first place with Riga relegating the losers to third if, as widely expected, they beat another London club, Polonia Ealing. Sunday saw the third cycle of the new round-robin tournament featuring the same three sides: top three in the league a year ago. Any one could win but for Warwick to do so they needed to defeat both the others and by the end of the second match, it was Docklands day.
Riga were on court first and played Docklands who beat them 25:20 25:14 25:18 to scupper their hopes. Out of sorts, was announcer Phil Allens description of Warwick and the performance was indeed well below their usual standard. In fact neither team had a good first set and the judges of the Man of the Match Award were beginning to despair. However, the Londoners then settled into their game, Boris Halatchev and Jesse Kaptein started to impress and Albrecht Glitz got into his usual rhythm, all three helped by accurate setting by Andy Vincett, who also blocked well. It was the setter who took the award at the end of the game. For Warwick, Andy Lynn and Ed Ekanem blocked well together but consistent attacking was at a premium.
After some lively entertainment by a great percussion band, Docklands were back in the limelight in a practice for the league decider and the nature of their victory over Malory, 22:25 25:16 25:17 offered no indication that the league result is a foregone conclusion. The first set, deservedly won by Malory, was the best both as a spectacle and as a contest but the crowd, about the size of Warwick and Leicester combined, got behind Docklands and contained a noisy section of the Albrecht Glitz Fan Club. For a while Malory competed with Joe Mildred having a good game and Alex Bialokoz sparkling in the unusual role for him of outside hitter, but under this double assault, Malory faded in the later stages and the judges had little difficulty in naming Albrecht as Man of the Match. In winning, Docklands not only claimed the first of the titles, they also ensured that no one team could take all three this season.
Less than an hour later, Malory were on court again in a trailer for the Cup Final. The faithful supporters were treated to a close, exciting match. Morf Bowes assumed the role of Captain for Malory and, with inspired play, was the difference between the teams. Nobody was surprised when it was announced that his award of Man of the Match had been a unanimous decision. There was little between the sides throughout and even in the third set the scores were still tied at nineteen all. Malorys Andy Carr and guest Tom Stevens played well with Kees De Hoogh prominent in attack for Warwick and young libero, Matthew Howe. In the end, Warwick ended as 2-1 losers but the Londoners victory by 27:25 25:22 20:25, having been forced to save three set points before taking the opening set, promises a thrilling encounter when they meet again at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre.