Opponents: Solent Competition: Super8s Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016 Venue: Sobell Result: W 3-0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-21) Headline: Solent no match for Docklands' outsiders Author: Andy Hopper
London Docklands Volleyball returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win over newly promoted Solent. The team from Southampton spent just one season down in Division 1, bouncing back up to the Super8s at the first attempt. Although they are yet to win a Super8s match this season they would have taken confidence from their last fixture against Docklands; in last season's Shield Semi Final, Solent demolished a lacklustre Docklands 3-0. They went on to beat Newcastle Staffs in the final and maintained their good form to clinch promotion back to the Super8s.
With three middle blockers unavailable coach Andy Hopper effectively fielded five outside hitters as Piotr Majorkowski and Francois Leroy took on the responsibility of the middle of the court. Despite the athletic Joel Moutero scoring a few impressive points for Solent, Majorkowski and Leroy did a great job for Hopper and played a key role in the victory. After two weeks of injuries and illness Kieran O'Malley was also left in reserve with Jean-Baptiste Arzounian resuming in the setter role.
The first set was a comfortable one for Docklands, quickly gaining a lead and closing out the set 25-12. Solent weren't helping themsleves by gifting Docklands seven points through unforced errors. During the break between sets ex-Docklands player Adam Phillips, now Solent coach, must have encouraged his charges to cut out the errors and they duly delivered. Service pressure from Aaron Robertson and Jacek Szafranski saw Solent lead 8-3 at the first technical time-out and they maintained their five-point cushion until 16-11. But then Docklands slowly found a way back into the set. It started with a probing run of serves by Leroy followed by an ace by O'Malley with his first touch of the ball and suddenly Docklands were 20-19 up. However, Solent managed to sideout quickly and two blocks in row saw the pendulum swing back the visitor's way, forcing Hopper to call a time-out 22-20 down. The Docklands' ship was steadied and the home side just had enough to close out the set 25-23.
Set three was by no means a foregone conclusion and at 11-8 up Solent threatened to extend the match into a fourth set. However, subtle service pressure by Majorkowski and a series of Solent errors turned the score around with Docklands ahead 13-11 and Hopper's side would not relinquish the lead again. In the end a kill by captain Andrew Pink sealed a 25-21 third set win.
Pink commented afterwards, "That was a very important win and gives us something to build on. The boys managed the game well today and consistently came up with answers to the situations we found ourselves in. We can now enjoy the break and make sure we come back fresh in four weeks time".
now have to wait until the 19th November before their next Super8s match
against Wessex at Sobell.
Black Knight: Piotr Majorkowski
Docklands MVP : Andrew Pink
Solent MVP: Joel Mutero