Opponents: London Lynx Competition: Super8s Date: Sunday 15th January 2017 Venue: UEL Beckton Result: L 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 23-25, 21-25) Headline: Docklands' magnificent seven fall to Lynx Author: Andy Hopper
London Docklands Volleyball began 2017 with a battling performance against local rivals Lynx but came out of the fight on the wrong end of a 3-1 loss. Due to injury, work commitments and paternity leave Docklands only had seven players available. The depleted squad meant coach Andy Hopper had to rejig his team and switch Bruno Lusic to the outside slot, a position he last played over five years ago. Also, Kieran O'Malley ended Docklands' last match as a makeshift opposite player but this time he started there. The ex-GB setter had an inspired game and more than held his own against GB teammate Yassir Sliti.
Docklands came out of the blocks firing with clever hitting and serving by Mathieu Ras getting the visitors off to an impressive start. They led 13-11 when Lynx coach Davide Tiberti took his first time-out. Docklands would maintain their two-point lead with the help of blocks by O'Malley and Tomek Wysocki. However, Docklands were pegged back after a couple of unforced errors and Lynx took full advantage. Sliti closed out the set 25-21 with a clinical block on Lusic.
Set two followed a similar pattern to the first with Docklands opening up a slender lead which they maintained until the second technical time-out. On this occasion Docklands were able to translate their lead into a winning position and after a long rally Lusic closed out the set 25-22 with a smash off the block.
It was Lynx's turn to start the better in set three and they duly dominated the first two thirds of the set. Gary Slade and Sliti impressed as they took the game to Docklands. The hosts led 16-10 and looked on course for a comfortable third set win. But Docklands has other ideas and four quick points dragged them back into the match. Deceptive serving from Hias was the catalyst and some dramatic pick ups by Marcel Sivak and Jean-Baptiste Arzounian gave Docklands the fire they needed. Lynx recovered to lead 20-15 but Docklands came back to within a point at 22-21 down. A block and an ace by Wysocki saw the scores level at 23-23 with the set and match in the balance. A pipe attack by the relatively quiet Taylor Wilson caught the sideline to set up set point to Lynx before a close handling call against Docklands gave the set and a 2-1 lead to Lynx.
Lynx maintained their momentum into set four and quickly took a 7-4 lead. However, again inspired by a run of serves by Hias, Docklands charged into a 10-7 lead. The introduction of ex-Docklands setter Nicolo D'Elia gave Lynx some much needed impetus and he helped his side recover to lead 16-15. With no fresh legs on the bench for Docklands, a similar change was not possible as a series of Docklands' errors saw the fourth set slip away. In the end Docklands managed to save four match points but it was all too late as Lynx took the set 25-21.
Hopper said afterwards, "We started the match with no expectations and just went for it. In the end we're disappointed by the result as we had a chance to gain some crucial points. We can take confidence from today and hopefully use it next weekend".
face two crucial ties next weekend when they host Sheffield at Ernest
Bevin on Saturday and then on Sunday travel to Bournemouth to take on
Docklands MVP : Flavian Hias
Lynx MVP: Gary Slade