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Docklands coach calls for improvement, despite opening day victory

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 September 2012

The London Docklands volleyball squad for 2012/13 pose for the cameras at the weekend

The London Docklands volleyball squad for 2012/13 pose for the cameras at the weekend

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London Knights 1 London Docklands 3

London Docklands coach Andy Hopper admitted there is still vast room for improvement, despite witnessing his side’s 3-1 triumph over rivals London Knights at Bethnal Green Sports Centre on Sunday.

Captain Mark Baechi was voted Most Valuable Player after his pivotal role in ensuring Docklands showed the mental strength to recover from a second-set stumble to win the opening match of their National Division One campaign.

And Hopper admitted there is plenty to improve upon going into Sunday’s clash at Dane Watford.

“It wasn’t always pretty, but it was important for us to win today and bury a few demons,” he said.

“It’s great to get started and we know we can improve things. There’s still plenty of work to do, but the squad is playing well and for each other.”

Docklands, who lost all three meetings against the Knights last season, made a flying start with a 25-14 win in the opening set.

In set two they resisted a fightback from Knights to gain six set-points at 24-18.

However, a run of deceptive serves by David Galea and some uncharacteristic errors saw a dramatic turnaround with Knights stealing the set 26-24.

With Docklands on the back foot for the first time in the match, Hopper called on the services of the experienced Raf Dürr and Matteo Cottignoli and welcomed Slawek Omlyski and new setter Nicolò dElia into the fray ahead of set three.

Knights, buoyed by their second-set win, managed to maintain the momentum to lead 10-4. But the visitors slowly clawed their way back and after a long run of serves by dElia his side led 19-11, before going on to close out the set 25-16.

Baechli gave his side the perfect start with two aces within a run of six serves, helping Docklands take a 7-0 lead. But Knights fought back, forcing Hopper to take a time-out still 7-4 up.

Docklands managed to maintain their slender lead throughout a close set with blocks by dElia and Omlyski helping to keep them ahead, before an enormous Omlyski block sealed the set 25-21 and the match.

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