Opponents: Warwick Riga Competition: National League Division 1 Date: Sunday 15th October 2006 Venue: Bacon's College, Rotherhithe Result: W 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21) Headline: Master class from Docklands Author: Andy Hopper
Neil Masters made his first start of the season for London Docklands and produced a virtuoso performance that was the cornerstone of Docklands' third win in a row. The power hits of Dejan Miladinovic, Albrecht Glitz and Martin Blake usually steal all the headlines but Masters' solid passing game and clever net play saw him awarded Docklands' Black Knight (man of the match).
Docklands' opponents, Warwick Riga, are one of the east London club's oldest rivals. In fact, this was the 21st match between the two sides since their first exactly ten years and three days ago. Docklands had won seven of the last eight fixtures but their last defeat at the hands of Warwick was the away match last season - the opposite result would have led to the league being decided on points difference. Therefore, the importance of this match was not lost on either side, even this early in the season.
The match started at a pulsating pace with some high power volleyball from both sides. The power hits of Glitz and Miladinovic were being matched by Warwick's Kiwi Chris Anderson and Kees De Hoogh from the Netherlands. Warwick's home grown stars the English Chris Anderson and Dan Turnbull were also impressing with their attacking play. The score remained extremely tight until the English Anderson blocked Miladinovic and Docklands coach Ian Legrand called his first time out to try and prevent Warwick gaining any momentum from that point - his side were only 18-19 down. A service error in the following point gifted the ball back to Docklands and two quick points from Glitz saw Docklands go 21-19 up. De Hoogh stopped Docklands' run but his subsequent error and a block by Danny Primus gave Docklands a three point lead. It was left to Masters to kill the last ball to give Docklands a 25-21 first set win.
The second set was just as close until a hatrick of blocks by Blake, Glitz, and Miladinovic gave Docklands a slight advantage. Further points from Blake and Glitz saw Docklands go 19-16 and become favourites to take the second set. However, Warwick's fighting spirit came to the fore and service pressure from John Gilling helped them level the scores. Despite some clever hitting by Glitz, Warwick's desire seemed greater and a De Hoogh kill sealed their 25-23 win.
The level of volleyball did not drop in the third set and there was nothing between the teams as the score reached 10-10. However, after kills from Glitz and Miladinovic and a Warwick error the home side were suddenly four points up and in command. Two more Warwick hitting errors and a Glitz ace stretched Docklands' lead. Warwick's frustration increased as they struggled to get back into the set but despite saving two set points they could not stop Docklands taking the set 25-17.
It did not get any better for Warwick at the start of the fourth set as De Hoogh was shut out by Boris Halatchev. Masters then went on a run of six serves as Docklands raced into an 8-1 lead. Docklands extended their lead to nine points but started to lose concentration as the match neared its conclusion. Warwick never gave up as they saved four match points until Halatchev rose to punch the ball through the Warwick block to seal a 25-21 win.
Docklands' captain Glitz said after the match, "This was a very pleasing win for us as they are always tough to play. This was easily our best performance of the season so far". Legrand was also happy with the performance, commenting, "Both sides played at a high level today and it is good to know we can match a team like that and win".
After City of Bristol beat Docklands' biggest rivals Malory at the weekend, Docklands win took on even greater significance. However, Docklands will also be wary of the threat of Bristol, who they face in just over a month's time. However, before that Docklands face a tricky trip to Sheffield next weekend when they will need to be at their best again.
Docklands: Miladinovic 18 kills (30 attempts), Halatchev 7 (10), Masters 5 (9), Blake 3 (8), Glitz 22 (37), Ruh 0 (0), Sliti 0 (0), Primus 2 (4), Pink 0 (1), Blair (Libero). Sub not used: Riginelli.
Wyles 0 (3), De Hoogh 16 (27), Minotti 2 (5), Gilling 4 (8), Anderson
10 (23), Anderson 10 (19), Turnbull 5 (9), Molinari (Libero). Subs not
used: Wicht, Hudson, Morawski, Stroo.
Black Knight: Neil Masters