Strong Staffs end Docklands title challenge
PUBLISHED: 12:15 19 January 2012
Docklands Volleyball team were beaten by leaders Newcastle Staffs at the weekend
Newcastle Staffs made a big step back towards the top tier of English volleyball with a gritty 3-1 win at title rivals London Docklands.
Docklands started their first league match without influential hitter Malte Rieger but could finally give a debut to Bruno Lusic-Sakotic after a long lay-off.
Both sides started confidently with early kills by Docklands’ Matthias Gilch and Sam Shenton for Staffs.
Newcastle took control though, but Docklands were not in the mood to let the set go and were back level at 20-20 after good work by Mark Baechli and Alessandro Galli.
But a couple of sloppy errors by the hosts let Staffs back in and they took full advantage to take the first set 25-21.
Set two looked to be heading the same way with Staffs leading 16-11.
However, Docklands picked up their game to steamroller their way back into the set and match.
The hosts earned themselves three set-points at 24-21 and seemed on course to level the match.
But suddenly the wheels came off the Docklands train and Staffs battled their way through, over and round the Docklands’ block to take the set 26-24.
With nothing to lose, Docklands seemed to relax and took the game to Staffs in set three.
After a minor altercation through the net, fired up Lusic-Sakotic went on a run of five serves putting pressure back on the Staffs passing unit. And this time Andy Hopper’s side held their nerve and took the set 25-20.
Docklands maintained their momentum into set four and led 8-6 at the first time out.
But some strong blocking by Adam Bradbury and Iain McKellar put Docklands on the back foot forcing Hopper to call a time out 10-8 down.
They did stem the tide of Staffs points and drew level at 15-15.
But kills by Shenton and Will Roberts gave the visitors a healthy four-point cushion.
The home side were getting more and more frustrated as the match slipped away from them and Staffs showed why they have only lost one league match all season with a clinical closing out of the set 25-19.
This weekend Docklands host Richmond.
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