Other 2016/17 reports

Opponents: Malory Eagles
Competition: Super8s
Date: Saturday 1st October 2016
Venue: Ernest Bevin College
Result: W 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 25-18)
Headline: Docklands start with solid win against old rivals
Author: Andy Hopper

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London Docklands Volleyball began their Super8s season with a solid four-set win over old rivals Malory Eagles. Ever since Docklands were formed out of the old Malory 2 team 22 years ago, both clubs have had a fierce rivalry. This is Docklands most common fixture and although Malory still lead the 38 match series 25-13, Docklands have now won four of the last five encounters.

Docklands captain Kieran O'Malley commented after the victory, "That was a good start. Nothing too flashy but a great win. There's definitely more to come from us but we'll take that and move on. I'm proud of the guys."

Andy Hopper, returning to the position of Head Coach after three years, added, "I'm obviously very pleased with the win and impressed with how the guys performed. We played some clever volleyball today and did what we needed to do to win. We've got plenty of things to work on but it's great to get off to a winning start."

The first two sets followed a similar pattern with Docklands opening up an early lead and doing just enough to close out the set. Julian Marcon was having a mature debut on the wing whilst Bruno Lusic, playing his first game for Docklands since 2012, was providing a great power outlet for O'Malley. Libero Jean-Baptiste Arzounian was providing a solid platform for O'Malley to run his offence and was able to dictate play, releasing Flavien Hias to great affect. Docklands took sets one and two 25-21 and 25-19 with a Hias block giving his side a 2-0 lead.

Malory coach Jefferson Williams has been involved in every Docklands-Malory match and mixed up his side to try and find the winning formula. One of his introductions, Gary Slade stepped up to the plate and delivered four jump serves in a row at the start of the fourth set to put pressure on Docklands' passing unit. After two consecutive aces took Malory 4-0 up, Hopper took a time-out to try and stem the flow. Malory would then maintain their four-point lead for the majority of the set until a mini-rally by Docklands narrowed the gap at 22-20. Another surge by the visitors saw the set tied 23-23 and all the momentum was with Docklands. But Malory dug in and gained their first set point. Docklands managed to save the first decider but couldn't do it twice as Malory won 26-24.

Malory carried on in confident mood in set four but Docklands hung on to turn a deficit of 6-8 at the first technical time-out into a 9-8 lead with clever hitting by Piotr Majorkowski and Hias. O'Malley cajoled his team mates to up the tempo and they responded with some tenacious defence to frustrate Malory. Docklands then went on a run of scoring two points each time they went back to serve and Malory had no response. In the end an ace by Majorkowski closed out the set 25-18.

Docklands next face a tough road trip to the north to take on Sheffield and Team Northumbria in one weekend. But they will be buoyed by a good away victory at the start of the season and will travel north in confident mood.

Black Knight: Flavien Hias

Docklands MVP : Piotr Majorkowski

Malory MVP: Gary Slade

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