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Docklands open with victory over rivals

PUBLISHED: 13:43 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:38 05 October 2010

London Docklands started the National League volleyball season with a battling win over local rivals London Lynx on Saturday.

London Docklands started the National League volleyball season with a battling win over local rivals London Lynx on Saturday.

Having lost three players from his first six of last season, Docklands coach Ian Legrand gave debuts to four new signings in a see-saw encounter.

He also made two positional changes with Alex Gaitan returning to the role of setter after a stint in the middle and Alexis Blair switching back to outside hitter after three seasons as libero.

Blair, making his 150th Docklands appearance, was captaining the side for the first time and it was his run of serves that broke the deadlock at the start of the first set, guiding Docklands into a 10-7 lead.

Debutant Adam El Kass also impressed and the Lynx blockers struggled to cope with his variety of shots as Docklands were closed out the opening set 25-21 with a kill by Adam Phillips.

In a scrappy second set, Docklands opened up a three point lead at 19-16 after a short run of serves by Phillips but three unforced errors allowed Lynx back in and veteran Ed Ekanem tied the scores before Wahid Hassani punished a lacklustre Docklands attack to give Lynx the set.

Lynx maintained their momentum at the start of the third set but Docklands pegged them back and took advantage of a service error by the dangerous Jalal El Achkar with kills by Jesse Kaptein and El Kass to take the set 25-21.

Lynx fought back to take the fourth set but Docklands started the final set brighter with three points by El Kass taking his side into a 3-1 lead. Lynx recovered to tie the scores at 5-5 and the sides exchanged points before an El Kass hit off the block gave Docklands a 13-11 lead.

An error by Hassani gave Docklands three match points and though Lynx saved the first two, a perfect pass by Blair allowed Gaitan to feed Phillips, who despatched a thunderous spike to seal the win for Docklands.

"It may not have been pretty at times but that was an important win," said Legrand. "Lynx are always a difficult team to play and I was pleased with the way we battled back and never gave up. We must tidy up parts of our play but I'm confident we're going in the right direction.

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