Opponents: Middlesbrough Academy and Birmingham Competition: Division 1 Date: Saturday/Sunday 15/16th January 2014 Venue: Middlesbrough College & Aston University Boro Result: W 3-1 (25-15, 25-18, 25-15) Brum Result: W 3-0 (25-9, 25-18, 25-14) Headline: Joy of six - Docklands' 600 mile trek ends in 6-0 win
London Docklands went on a Valentines weekend road trip of 600 miles, returning with two emphatic 3-0 victories to leave them in touching distance of the National League Division 1 title. Marc Schaepertoens, Docklands' setter and winner of both Black Knight awards, said afterwards, "We avoided two potential banana skins this weekend with two great performances. Everyone played their part and it sets up the Tendring match perfectly".
The weekend started with a noon start against Middlesbrough Academy. Docklands raced into a 9-1 lead with Raul Sanchez Galan causing havoc in the Middlesbrough passing unit. Schaepertoens was able to run his offence comfortably with Yavor Popov unstoppable through the middle. Almost inevitably, Docklands lost some of their momentum and coasted to a 25-15 first set win.
Sets two and three followed similar patterns with Middlesbrough competing at the start of each set. They were in touch at the first technical time-out but by the second one minute interlude, Docklands were in charge and ahead by at least five-points. Captain Mark Baechli and Popov ended up as Docklands' top scorers, highlighting their dominance down the middle of the court. Docklands took the last two sets 25-18 and 25-15, hardly getting out of second gear. It helped ensure Docklands were fresh for the second chapter of the weekend in Birmingham.
Despite sitting at the bottom of the table, Birmingham are always stronger at home and would have been buoyed by a victory over London Lynx 2 on the previous day. They also have a formidable weapon in the shape of new signing Wojciech Biernat. The Pole was their main threat but Docklands' block and defence limited him to 2-3 points per set and with that, severely restricted Birmingham's chances of victory. At the forefront of this was Platon Vogiatzoglou, who brought his blocking game this weekend. He shut out Biernat three times and each block was a huge dent in Birmingham's confidence. Docklands produced their best performance of the season, limiting Birmingham to just nine points in set one.
Docklands maintained their serving and blocking pressure to completely dominate their hosts in sets two and three. They couldn't match the feat of keeping Birmingham in single figures but the result was never really in doubt. In fact, Birmingham managed to double their first set score in set two. Libero Christoph Datler produced some spectacular dives whilst Sanchez Galan and Piotr Majorkowski were enjoying major success on the wings.
completed their weekend clean sweep with 25-18 and 25-14 set wins. The
double victory sets up a tantalising encounter next Sunday at Tendring.
The Essex side have notched up an impressive ten consecutive league wins
since Docklands beat them back in October and are the London side's only
remaining challengers in the title race.
Middlesbrough Black Knight: Marc Schaepertoens
Birmingham Black Knight: Marc Schaepertoens
Docklands MVP v Middlesbrough: Yavor Popov
Middlesbrough MVP: Dan Fearnley
Docklands MVP v Birmingham: Marc Schaepertoens
Birmingham MVP: Arkadiusz Grzelak