London Docklands keep Super 8s place
PUBLISHED: 15:30 15 May 2017
Club wins relegation play-off against Richmond
London Docklands Volleyball retained their Super 8s status with victory over Richmond in the dreaded relegation play-off.
History was on London’s side as only once in seven years has the top team from Division One won this fixture – Solent in 2012.
And coach Andy Hopper was in charge when London last played in the play-off, as the Division One challenger in 2013 when they lost to Solent.
Raul Sanchez Galan was the only playing survivor int he squad and started alongside a resolute set of players, determined not to be the ones to see London relegated from Super 8s.
The first set started very evenly until a string of tough serves by Francois Leroy helped Londno overturn an 8-7 deficit into a 16-8 lead.
Hopper’s side closed out the set 25-17, but Richmond’s mixture of experienced veterans and promising youngsters took the game to them in the second set, pressuring the passing unit, who struggled to find their rhythm after a seven-week break.
Richmond took full advantage of some lacklustre London play to take the set 25-16 and level it up, but it was the jolt Hopper’s men needed and Mathieu Ras led the way as they upped the aggression and started to dominate again.
Resolute blocking by Tomek Wysocki and Kieran O’Malley helped assert control and an ace by Ras brought set point, before he sealed the set 25-15.
London managed to maintain their momentum in the fourth set and quickly took an 8-4 lead, but Javier and Joaquin Bello never gave up the fight for Richmond.
It was left to Black Knight Ras to show them the way with his service ace giving Docklands the fourth set 25-20 and Hopper said: “It’s an obvious relief to win this game.
“The long break from our last match was hard to manage and you’re never sure how it will go in a one-off match like this. We coped well with the pressure and had enough to deserve the win.
“We now need to have a long hard think about our future and make some tough decisions. It should be a fascinating summer.”
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