Docklands Volleyball end year with Super 8s defeat

The London Docklands Volleyball squad face the camera

The London Docklands Volleyball squad face the camera - Credit: Archant

London squad signs off with loss to Wessex

London Docklands Volleyball ended 2016 on a losing note against Wessex in their Super 8s clash at Sobell at the weekend.

They had enjoyed a 70 per cent win record at the north London venue, which is due to be renovated in the new year, aut in their last fixture there they went down 3-1.

The hosts made a bad start as Wessex’s Olly Batt produced a probing run of serves while Docklands’ hitters made errors from the unbalanced positions they found themselves in.

Wessex were ahead 8-2 in a flash and Docklands found themselves already chasing the set, but captain Andrew Pink started to have some success at the net with Bruno Lusic and Flavien Hias also making points.

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It wasn’t enough to close the gap, though, and Wessex took the first set 25-16.

The second set proved to be the highlight for Docklands as some controlled power hitting and exceptional blocking saw them take the game back to Wessex.

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Docklands led 13-9 when Wessex coach Andy Jones took his first time-out of the match and his side responded with some excellent power hitting of their own, with Miguel Espinzoa and Andrea Ivanov standing out.

Docklands were 16-12 up at the second technical time-out, but Wessex recovered to 16-15 as Matt Hunter applied pressure on from the service line.

The game then entered its most competitive period with neither side able to gain the upper hand, but after a Docklands’ time-out at 22-21 down, Hias killed the ball and then found his serving head to help his side to a 25-22 second-set win.

Docklands sprinted into a 3-0 lead at the start of set three with the serving of Jean-Baptiste Arzounian causing the Wessex passing unit problems.

However, Docklands couldn’t maintain the pressure and a beguiling run of serves from Harry Jones helped Wessex go 8-5 up.

Wessex continued to dominate, not allowing Docklands any foothold in the set, and eventually cantered to a 25-17 set win to leave Docklands with a mountain to climb.

The fourth set started well for Docklands, who again took a three-point lead at 4-1.

But another run of Jones’ serves was the catalyst for another Wessex recovery and disaster struck for Docklands when 5-4 behind as Lusic landed awkwardly with a suspected calf tear.

Without a suitable replacement on the bench, coach Andy Hopper was forced to rejig his side’s set-up, making Kieran O’Malley an emergency opposite hitter, and Wessex took full advantage.

Before Docklands were able to adjust properly, the visitors were 15-6 ahead and on their way to a comfortable victory which saw them leapfrog the hosts into fourth place.

Docklands now have almost two months off before their next match on January 15 against London Lynx and skipper Pink said: “It’s hard to put your finger on what went wrong.

“Wessex played well, but we just didn’t get going and that’s disappointing. We now have plenty of time to think about it and must come back stronger in the New Year.”

Black Knight: Jean-Baptiste Arzounian took the Black Knight award, while Bruno Lusic was named MVP.

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