Opponents: City of Bristol
London Docklands Volleyball kick started their national league season with a hard fought victory over City of Bristol. After losing their first match last weekend it was crucial that the east London side recovered and their visit to the West Country proved to be tougher than expected. The Bristol team gained promotion from Division 2 last season, dropping only two matches on their way to winning the championship. After gaining the winning habit in the lower division they were not over awed by their guests from London. They started confidently, with their new power hitter, Jiri Petrash, dominating the net. Two consecutive kills from the Czech saw his side go 8-4 up. Docklands fought back to within one point with kills from Albrecht Glitz and Neil Masters but after a service error and two more Bristol points all the good work was lost and Docklands coach Ian Legrand was forced to take his first time out 8-12 down. Two errors from Bristol helped Docklands back into the set and a kill from Boris Halatchev levelled the score at 14-14. Petrash then produced two more unstoppable attacks to swing the balance back towards Bristol and further kills from Mike McCarthy and Tony Sullivan gave the home side an unassailable lead, finally taking the first set 25-19.
After a stern team talk from Legrand, Docklands began the second set more assertively with a block by Halatchev on Jevgenijs Palancevics. An ace from Andy Vincett stretched Docklands' lead and the setter began to find his middle hitters more consistently with Halatchev and Martin Blake producing kills from different types of attacks. Alex Inglot, making his Docklands debut, then produced a short service run that included an ace that helped stretch Docklands' lead to five points, 10-5 up. But three blocks from Bristol forced Legrand into a time out, his side only 13-12 ahead. Captain Glitz then delivered three consecutive points to ease Docklands' nerves before a Bristol fight back saw the scores level at 17-17. Two more Bristol blocks and a Docklands hitting error saw the home side 21-19 up. However, a critical service error from ex-Docklands player Artur Kweicinski and two more Glitz kills switched the momentum Docklands' way. An unexpected service ace from Blake underlined Docklands' advantage as they held onto to win 25-23.
Set three followed a similar pattern with both sides enjoying periods of superiority before letting their opponents back into the set. Docklands held the first advantage and led 8-4 after a service run from Inglot. But led by Petrash and Sullivan, Bristol were back in touch by 14-14. However, another service run from Inglot saw Docklands back in front and although Bristol recovered towards the end of the set a block by Vincett on Sullivan sealed a 25-22 win for Docklands.
Docklands might have expected Bristol to be shattered from losing their lead and succumb in the fourth set. However, the home side did not give up and helped by some slack Docklands play, raced into an 11-5 lead. Docklands managed to stem the flow with blocks from Blake and Inglot helping to narrow the gap to two points at 17-15. However, three Docklands errors and a kill from Petrash saw Bristol take a seemingly unassailable 21-15 lead. After the sides exchanged points, the introduction of Danny Primus as a serving substitute seemed to disrupt Bristol's passing unit. With Kwiecinski under pressure to supply his hitters Docklands were able to establish a more solid defence and blocks from Glitz and Halatchev kept the pressure on the home side. Bristol coach Gary Burton called his final time out to try and disturb Docklands' momentum but an ace from Primus in the next point saw the scores tied at 22-22. A kill by Petrash stopped the run but an error from the Czech in the next point tied the scores again. Then a block by Inglot on Petrash gave Docklands their first match point. Petrash saved it but Glitz restored Docklands lead and went back to serve. His powerful serve caused an over pass from Bristol but Halatchev failed to capitalise on it and Petrash put away the next attack. Halatchev made amends in the next point but another Petrash kill saved Docklands' third match point. Blake produced a clinical kill to set-up another chance but Petrash again saved the day. After a Glitz kill down the line gave Docklands their fifth match point, Nik Ruh went back to serve. His deceptive serve meant Bristol could only dig the ball back over and Vincett set up Glitz for another attack through the Bristol block to take the set 29-27.
Docklands were delighted and relieved to register their first win of the season. Legrand said, "This was a crucial win. Bristol will surprise some people this season and I fully expect them to challenge some of the more established division one sides. It was important we came through this match and we now need to build on this win with some more solid performances." Docklands man of the match Inglot commented, "I am proud to be part of this Docklands team and I hope to play a big part in our future success."
now have a two week break before they face a tough double header weekend
away to Sheffield and Newcastle Staffs.
Docklands: Vincett 0 kills (4 attempts), Halatchev 6 (15), Masters 8 (28), Inglot 5 (23), Blake 6 (13), Ruh 1 (6), Primus 0 (0), Glitz 28 (54), Blair (Libero). Subs not used: Groy, Jump.
Bristol: McCarthy 5 (14), Pierce 1 (2), Polkingthorne 1 (4), Kwiecinski
2 (5), Sullivan 7 (19), Palancevics 5 (13), Petrash 23 (45), Locke (Libero).
Subs not used: Smith, Passler