Opponents: London Lynx 1 Competition: National League Division 1 Date: Saturday 13th December 2008 Venue: Bacon's College, Rotherhithe Result: W 3-1 (25-16, 25-23, 26-28, 26-24)
London Docklands Volleyball ended 2008 with a critical win against east London rivals London Lynx. In a tense match, Docklands battled hard to force a win in the fourth set, managing to avoid a nervous deciding set. The result meant that Docklands completed the double over Lynx as it followed their 3-2 victory on the opening day of the season. However, it was done with almost a completely different team. Captain Alexis Blair was the only surviving member from Docklands' first seven back in September. Docklands' new line-up included Blair's brother in law, Andy Vincett, who was back for a one-off appearance, to chalk up 199 games for Docklands. His brief return to the UK was a fortuitous one, as regular setter Alex Gaitan was unavailable and Docklands benefited from his experience in an edgy encounter. Ian Legrand also gave a first start to Matt Butterworth and recalled Matt Mills to the first seven.
Lynx were looking to bounce back from a shock 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Reading last weekend but would have to do it without the duel threat of Diego Caielli and Antonio Codrington. They couldn't have got off to a worst start with several errors gifting Docklands an early 8-3 lead. Docklands' advantage was reduced after a couple of blocks on Mills but he recovered with a clever shot off Lynx's block. A service run by Boris Halatchev reasserted Docklands' dominance and another kill by Mills took his team 17-11 up. Docklands managed another cluster of points, culminating in a thundering block by Wayne Davies on Lynx danger man Wahid Hassani. The set was finished off by Butterworth who was linking well with Vincett as Docklands took the set 25-16.
Docklands started brightly in set two but a short service run by Rafael Ferro pegged Docklands back as Lynx enjoyed the lead for the first time in the match. Legrand called a time out with his side 13-10 down and they responded by slowly whittling down Lynx's lead until a kill by Mills tied the scores at 17-17. The scores remained tight until a Davies block on Ferro was followed up by a Vincett ace to take Docklands 23-21 up. Docklands were able to side out their way to 25-23 second set win.
Set three was a turbulent affair with both sides enjoying periods of dominance but seemed unable to maintain an advantage on the scoreboard for long. After the score had reached 20-20 a Lynx error and an Halatchev kill seemed to give Docklands the upper hand, just two points away from the match. However, two Docklands' errors and a point by Ferro suddenly saw Lynx at set point. Docklands valiantly defended three set points until Ferro produced an ace to steal the set 28-26.
Docklands were obviously keen to avoid a fifth set shoot out and grinded out a 10-7 lead in the fourth set. However, Lynx did not give up and the scores again reached 20-20 after some good work from Jalal El Achkar and Hassani. Each team's side out games then came to the fore as points were traded up until 23-23. A Docklands serving error gave Lynx the first set point but a powerful Davies smash saved that for Docklands. A setting error by Lynx then gave Docklands their first match point and Davies duly obliged with an ace to seal a 26-24 win.
Docklands coach Legrand was clearly pleased afterwards, commenting, "When we started this last sequence of three matches I said we needed to win at least two of them and that's what we did. We also pushed Malory close and it all bodes well for next year."
Docklands now have almost a month off before they face Lynx 2 in the third round of the cup on Saturday 10th January at Bacon's College.
Docklands: Davies 10 kills (28 attempts), Vincett 1 (3), Halatchev 1 (6), Mills 11 (26), Kaptein 0 (0), Apostolov 0 (0), Blair 12 (33), Butterworth 5 (12), Senatore (Libero). Sub not used: Sliti.
Bignold 0 (0), Ferro 5 (21), Trodden 0 (1), Reeg 1 (4), El Achkar 10 (28),
Hassani 12 (32), Ekanem 9 (17), Jones 5 (11), Wong (Libero).
Black Knight: Alexis Blair