Opponents: Wessex Competition: Super8s Date: Saturday 19th November 2016 Venue: Sobell Result: L 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-25) Headline: Docklands end year with defeat Author: Andy Hopper
London Docklands Volleyball played their final match of 2016 at the weekend and their last one at Sobell due to the north London venue having renovations in the New Year. Up until Saturday Docklands had enjoyed a 70% win record at Sobell but the visitors Wessex proved too strong on this occasion and went away with a 3-1 victory.
Set one started disastrously for Docklands with Wessex's Olly Batt producing a probing run of serves whikst Docklands' hitters made errors from the unbalanced positions they found themselves in. Wessex were ahead 8-2 in a flash and Docklands found themselves already chasing the set. Docklands captain Andrew Pink started to have some success at the net with Bruno Lusic and Flavien Hias also making points but it wasn't enough to close the gap and Wessex took the set 25-16.
The second set proved to be Docklands' highlight with some controlled power hitting and exceptional blocking to take the game back to Wessex. Docklands led 13-9 when Wessex coach Andy Jones took his first time-out of the match. His side responded with some excellent power hitting of their own, Miguel Espinzoa and Andrea Ivanov standing out. Docklands were 16-12 up at the second technical time-out but Wessex recovered to 16-15 with Matt Hunter applying pressure on from the service line. The game then entered its most competitive period with neither side able to gain the upper hand. But after a Docklands' time-out at 22-21 down, Hias killed the ball and then found his serving head to help his side to a 25-22 second set win.
Docklands sprinted into a 3-0 lead at the start of set three with the serving of Jean-Baptiste Arzounian causing the Wessex passing unit problems from the get-go. However, Docklands couldn't maintain the pressure and a beguiling run of serves from Harry Jones helped Wessex go 8-5 up. Wessex continued to dominate, not allowing Docklands any foothold in the set. In the end Wessex cantered to a 25-17 third set win and left Docklands with a mountain to climb.
The fourth set started well for Docklands, again taking a three-point lead at 4-1. But another run of Jones' serves was the catalyst for another Wessex recovery. It was during his run that disaster struck for Docklands. At 5-4 Wessex, Lusic landed awkwardly with a suspected calf tear and without a suitable replacement on the bench, coach Andy Hopper was forced to rejig his side's set-up, making Kieran O'Malley an emergency opposite hitter. Wessex took full advantage and before Docklands were able to adjust properly, the visitors were 15-6 ahead and on their way to a comfortable victory.
The win meant
Wessex leapfrogged Docklands into fourth place in the table. Docklands
now have almost two months off before their next match on 15th January
against London Lynx. Pink commented, "It's hard to put your
finger on what went wrong today. Wessex played well but we just didn't
get going and that's disappointing. We now have plenty of time to think
about it and must come back stronger in the New Year".
Black Knight: Jean-Baptiste Arzounian
Docklands MVP : Bruno Lusic
Wessex MVP: Miguel Espinoza