Opponents: Warwick Riga
London Docklands Volleyball have reached their second KO Cup Final with a battling 3-0 win over Warwick Riga. On the way to the final the east London side have not dropped a set in their four cup ties and now face their biggest rivals London Malory after they came from a set down to beat City of Bristol 1 in the other semi final.
Warwick have reached the last two finals, both of which they lost to Malory. Before the match the midlands side were confident after inflicting Docklands' only 3-0 defeat of the season back in November. However, a poor Docklands performance on that day and a number of changes in Docklands' line-up meant that Warwick were unable to repeat the same feat. It was Docklands' talisman Albrecht Glitz that set the scene at the very start of the match, despatching two kills to give his side the perfect start. A block by Efe Eruero and an ace from Nik Ruh continued Docklands' run as they led 5-1. But Warwick fought back and three blocks by Damon Minotti helped them level the scores by 8-8. Both sides were struggling to find their own rhythm and it was not until a short run of serves by Eruero that either side could claim a significant advantage with a block by Boris Halatchev on Dan Turnbull forcing Warwick coach Tom Young to take his second time out 20-17 down. Although Warwick were able to claw back some of Docklands' lead, most notably with a John Gilling block on Glitz, it was a Glitz smash that sealed a 25-23 first set win for Docklands.
The second set started evenly but Docklands drew comfort from the fact that Dejan Miladinovic, their Serbian power hitter, was starting to find his range after a quiet first set. Two consecutive kills from Miladinovic helped Docklands hold back Warwick at 8-8. However, a run of Warwick points that included three Docklands' errors in a row and a Turnbull block on Eruero saw Docklands coach Ian Legrand take both his second set time outs as his side slumped to a 13-8 deficit. A Warwick serving error ended their run and Docklands showed signs of recovery as Eruero punished an over pass off a Glitz serve. But three Docklands errors in succession stalled their recovery and Legrand called on England international Alex Porter to try and change the game. Docklands' new signing is only just coming back to full fitness after injury and his opportunities have been limited since re-joining the club at the end of January. However, his introduction gave Warwick something different to consider and he used his height to good effect to produce two valuable kills, helping Docklands keep a foothold in the set. However, Warwick still held a six point advantage with a block by Gilling on Miladinovic taking his side 19-13 ahead. Halatchev made amends and further kills from Glitz and Miladinovic edged Docklands back into the set. Although a Minotti found a way through the Docklands defence from the back court the momentum was all with Docklands. A clever second touch by Ruh brought Halatchev back to serve and his unique style of service pressure gave Docklands the upper hand. He started serving 19-21 down and his fourth serve caused a Warwick handling error which saw Docklands 23-21 up. Although a Minotti kill and an ace from Gilling tied the scores, two consecutive points from Glitz saw Docklands steal the set 25-23. Warwick were devastated while Docklands were jubilant.
Warwick struggled to recover from their disappointment of losing the second set and nothing could stop Docklands steam rolling their way to a comfortable third set win, 25-13. A run of six consecutive points broke the back of the set as kills from Glitz and Miladinovic combined with two blocks each from Neil Masters and Halatchev catapulted Docklands into an 11-5 lead. Docklands maintained their discipline well as Warwick fought to rescue the set but another short series of points during a Halatchev serving spell underlined Docklands control and the end could not come soon enough for Warwick. They will now look to pick themselves up before they face Docklands again in a crucial league encounter at Bacon's College on Saturday.
marked Legrand's 150th Docklands win and he praised his side's
reluctance to give up, saying, "Our fight back in the second set
was key and I was particularly pleased that we didn't lose heart when
we could have just given up. Alex played a key part in that phase of the
game but it was our team play that saw us through. I felt that we didn't
play to our full potential and we can still improve. We need to maintain
our good run for the last two league matches before we reach the big stage
against Malory." The Black Knight man of the match award was presented
to Glitz for his awe-inspiring display that saw his side set up
a repeat of the 2003 final when Docklands overcame Malory in three sets.
But first Docklands must complete their two remaining league fixtures
and will be wary of a Warwick side looking for revenge.
Docklands: Miladinovic 13 kills (27 attempts), Halatchev 2 (9), Masters 2 (8), Porter 2 (3), Glitz 16 (31), Ruh 1 (7), Primus 0 (0), Eruero 6 (8), Blair (Libero). Subs not used: Groy, Blake, Jump.
Riga: Wyles 0 (2), De Hoogh 9 (17), Minotti 5 (14), Gilling 1 (10),
Anderson (Eng) 4 (10), Anderson (NZ) 3 (7), Turnbull 1 (4), Molinari (Libero).
Subs not used: Hudson, Wicht, Meek.