Opponents: London Knights Competition: Division 1 Date: Sunday 23rd September 2012 Venue: Bethnal Green SC Result: W 3-1 (25-14, 24-26, 25-16, 25-21) Headline: Docklands lift Knights' curse
London Docklands began their 2012-13 league campaign with a hard fought victory over local rivals London Knights. Docklands faced Knights three times last season and came out losers in every match, each in five sets. But after a convincing 25-14 first set win it looked as though Docklands were well on their way to burying that demon.
In set two they resisted a fight back from Knights to gain six set points at 24-18. However, a run of deceptive serves by David Galea and some uncharacteristic errors by Docklands saw a dramatic turnaround with the home side stealing the set 26-24.
Up until then Docklands had seemed in complete control. With coach Andy Hopper able to call on the services of the experienced Raf Dürr and Matteo Cottignoli whilst also welcoming Slawek Omlyski back to the squad full time. With new setter Nicolò dElia, a revitalised Docklands started the match on fire and Knights had no answer.
But Knights, buoyed by their second set win, managed to maintain the momentum to lead 10-4 in set three. But after a Docklands time-out the visitors slowly clawed their way back and after a long run of serves by dElia his side led 19-11. Docklands closed out the set 25-16 and then set about avoiding a fourth five set match in a row.
Captain Mark Baechli gave his side the perfect start with two aces within a run of six serves, helping Docklands take a 7-0 lead. But Knights fought back forcing Hopper to take a time-out still 7-4 up. Docklands managed to maintain their slender lead throughout a close set with blocks by dElia and Omlyski helping to keep them ahead. In the end an enormous Omlyski block sealed the set 25-21 and match 3-1.
Hopper commented afterwards, "It wasn't always pretty but it was important for us to win today and bury a few demons. It's great to get started and we know we can improve things. There's still plenty of work to do but the squad is playing well and for each other".
travel to Danes Watford next Sunday hoping to continue their solid start
to the season.
Black Knight: Slawek Omlyski
Docklands MVP: Mark Baechli
MVP: Jadson Heitor Caldeira Tavares