Opponents: Malory Competition: National League Division 1 Date: Saturday 2nd December 2006 Venue: Raynes Park High School, Merton Result: 3-1 Win (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23) Headline: A perfect weekend for Docklands Author: Andy Hopper
London Docklands Volleyball enjoyed the perfect weekend with victory over London Malory and the news that City of Bristol had beaten table topping London Polonia. It means that a win next weekend against Polonia will see Docklands end 2006 on top of National League Division 1. It is set to be a titanic battle that will set a marker down for the rest of the season.
Matches between Docklands and Malory are always massive games and this one was no different. Malory had already lost three matches this term in their worst start to the season for over 20 years. In contrast, Docklands were reaching peak form after beating City of Bristol the previous week. However, the experienced Malory side that boasts seven England internationals can never be written off and Docklands would need to be at their best to continue their good run. They started well with kills by Albrecht Glitz and Dejan Miladinovic but a smash and a service ace by ex-Docklands player Aaron Stolberg pegged back Docklands. There followed a period of intense play as neither side could impose themselves fully on the match. It was not until a short run of Glitz serves that either side could claim more than a one point lead. Another run of serves by Boris Halatchev helped by two Miladinovic kills and two Malory errors saw Docklands go 15-10 up. A Martin Blake block on Alex Bialokoz extended Docklands' lead but Malory didn't give up. The introduction of Morph Bowes seemed to inject more confidence into Malory's play and two blocks on Miladinovic helped to pull them back into the set. A block by Stolberg on Glitz brought the scores level at 20-20. However, three quick fire points from Docklands swung the set back their way. Despite a late rally by Malory a service error from Bowes gave Docklands the set 25-23.
The second set was as close as it gets with neither side more than one point ahead until kills by Bowes and Stolberg took Malory 17-15 ahead. However, an ace by Nik Ruh helped level the scores as both teams sided out towards 22-22. A block by Richard Dobell on Glitz and a Docklands error gave the upper hand back to Malory and after two attempts Malory took the set 25-23.
Malory started the third set well with two consecutive aces from Steve Fee. But Docklands slowly clawed their way back into the set with Neil Masters and Miladinovic evading the Malory block. Glitz and Miladinovic then combined to pull Docklands ahead and a Glitz block on Bialokoz prompted Jefferson Williams to call a time out with his side 12-8 down. His words seemed to have the desired affect as his side were level by 14-14. But Docklands picked themselves up and put more pressure on the current league and cup champions. Docklands won six of the next seven points to take the set away from Malory as they closed out the set 25-17.
Both sides made unforced errors at the start of the fourth set as the score reached 4-4. Then five consecutive Docklands' errors gifted a healthy lead to Malory forcing Ian Legrand to call a time out with Docklands 9-4 down. Docklands managed to stem the flow of Malory points but still found themselves 20-13 down and seemingly heading towards a deciding fifth set. Two blocks in a row from Blake and Miladinovic gave Docklands some hope but as Glitz went back to serve his side were still 23-19 down. In scenes reminiscent of Docklands' first ever win over Malory in 2003, Glitz embarked on a devastating run of six serves to pile the pressure on Malory. His run included two aces and with Alex Porter shutting out Bialokoz, Docklands found themselves with match point. One of the longest rallies of the match then followed as both sides refused to give up. Glitz had forced an over pass and Porter had two attempts to win the match before his hit off the block sent the Docklands players and large contingent of travelling supporters wild. With the news that Bristol had stuffed Polonia, Docklands' weekend got even better, perfectly setting up the top of the table clash next Saturday.
Glitz was deservedly awarded the man of the match award and said after the match, "That was a crucial win and a very enjoyable one. Malory are always tough opposition and there was some high quality play today. To come out on top was a great achievement." Docklands coach Legrand was equally impressed by Docklands win, commenting, "That is a big win for us. We were preparing for the fifth set but with Albrecht in your side you always have a chance. That was an amazing display of controlled power from Albrecht but I was also impressed by the resilience of the team and our reluctance to give up. I was confident we would have won a fifth set but it was good to finish it off as we did."
Docklands will now look forward to taking on Polonia who are still top of the league on sets scored. It is bound to be a highly charged match as Polonia aim to do the double over Docklands. The match starts at 2.30pm on Saturday 9th December at Bacon's College, Rotherhithe.
Docklands: Miladinovic 18 kills (38 attempts), Halatchev 1 (10), Porter 4 (12), Masters 4 (6), Blake 3 (4), Glitz 13 (33), Ruh 0 (0), Primus 0 (0), Blair (Libero). Subs not used: Riginelli, Eruero.
Fee 11 (31), Bowes 14 (22), Hori 0 (0), Carr 0 (3), Dobell 1 (1), Mildred
2 (12), Stolberg 9 (18), Bialokoz 4 (8), Williams 0 (0), Burns 4 (5),
Martindale (Libero). Sub not used: Omoshebi.
Black Knight: Albrecht Glitz