Other 2007/08 reports

Opponents: Cambridge 1
Competition: National League Division 1
Date: Saturday 24th November 2007
Venue: Manor Community College, Cambridge
Result: W 3-2 (18-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-9)
Headline: Docklands fight back
Author: Andy Hopper


London Docklands Volleyball produced a battling performance to claw their way back to beat Cambridge 1 in five sets after going two sets down. For the first set and a half Docklands played some of their worst volleyball of the season while Cambridge frustrated the visitors with some resilient defence and varied attacking play. Docklands old boy Vaclav Petricek was particularly affective as Cambridge strolled to the first set 25-18.

The start of the second set was just as frustrating for Docklands coach Ian Legrand. Service runs by Cambridge's Jonas Neher and Petricek helped them take a comfortable lead while four Docklands' serving errors consistently gave the initiative back to the home side. At 15-8 down Legrand made the brave decision to remove a strangely ineffective Francesco Riginelli, introducing Alex Gaitan for the first time as an attacker. Gaitan made an immediate impact and would pose an intimidating threat for the rest of the match. Although Docklands could not recover from their disastrous start to the set they managed to out score Cambridge 14-10 after Gaitan's introduction and only lost the set 25-22.

With the momentum behind Docklands they set about getting themselves back into the match at the start of the third set. Captain Danny Primus led the way with a run of five serves, assisted by two Martin Blake blocks, to see Docklands go 5-1 up. Further service pressure from Nathan French emphasized Docklands' ascendancy as the visitors took a dominating 13-5 lead. With the passing unit of Mohammed Sliti, playing his first match of the season as Libero, and French now getting to grips with Cambridge's serves, Docklands were able to work from a more stable platform. Despite a mini-fight back by Cambridge, Docklands strolled to a 25-18 third set win and were right back in the match.

Klaus Thummert was making his first return to his old team Cambridge since joining Docklands in the summer. After an uncertain start to the match he had now found his range and was consistently scoring points against his old team. It was his run of serves that broke the deadlock early in the fourth set with the help of a French block on Andy Lynn taking Docklands 11-5 up. It was now Docklands' turn to produce some dramatic pick-ups and frustrate Cambridge with their defence. With Thummert and Gaitan scoring freely at the net and Blake and Efe Eruero controlling the middle channel Docklands took a commanding 21-10 lead and the match looked to be heading into a deciding fifth set. Cambridge enjoyed a short recovery with three consecutive kills from Sijme-Jan Paardekooper. During the build up to his last kill, Legrand was incensed by the handling of the set and remonstrated with both referees. As the Docklands bench had previously been warned by the referee to calm down Legrand was issued with a yellow card. The extra point to Cambridge made the score 21-14 to Docklands. Thummert then scored two consecutive points to quash any Cambridge hopes and Docklands sealed the set 25-16 with a Primus block on Petricek.

The tension continued into the fifth set. Thummert won the first rally but then his side lost the next two points. Primus was called for his first handling fault of the match and then a flashing cross court kill by Thummert was called out by the home line judge. Docklands' were furious with both decisions but kept a lid on their frustrations to avoid anymore yellow cards. Both sides then exchanged points with neither defence able to stop the other side's attack as Cambridge held onto their one point advantage at 5-4. In the next point referee Steve Walton called a Thummert smash down to the surprise of the Cambridge players and coach. In the heated discussions that ensued between captain Lynn and Walton, Lynn must have said something he shouldn't have as Walton gave him the second yellow card of the match. So Docklands had seen a 4-5 deficit turn into a 6-5 lead and an ace by Thummert in the next point only added to Cambridge's misery. A Cambridge time out helped calm the situation and the sides switched ends with Docklands 8-6 ahead. A clever second touch attack by setter Slim Tlili cut Docklands' lead but then a service error by Neher was punished by kills from Gaitan and Thummert that saw Docklands take an 11-7 lead. In the shortened fifth set such an advantage is crucial and Docklands were in no mood to relinquish it. Again the combination of Gaitan and Thummert secured Docklands the points they needed to take the set 15-9.

Docklands celebrated and a relived Legrand said afterwards, "We got out of jail there after playing some shocking volleyball for most of the first two sets. I was pleased with the way we adapted and played ourselves out of trouble. We must raise our level for next weekend as Malory won't let us off like that." Indeed, next Saturday sees second placed Docklands host top of the table Malory at Bacon's College.

Docklands: Riginelli 5 kills (17 attempts), French 8 (22), Blake 2 (7), Thummert 17 (38), Gaitan 7 (22), Eruero 3 (7), Primus 1 (5), Sliti (Libero).

Cambridge: Paardekooper 13 (30), Clarke 3 (8), Petricek 13 (48), Lynn 14 (39), Neher 2 (6), Tlili 3 (7), Aver (Libero). Subs not used: Seixas, Zubko.

Black Knight: Alex Gaitan

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