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Malory Eagles volleyball club

Men's 1 home to London Lynx
Saturday 12 December, Ernest Bevin College, Tooting London

The Eagles pulled off a narrow escape to take victory in their mid-season battle with Lynx.

After an indifferent warm-up, Malory coach Jefferson Williams started with a line up of Ashley Trodden setting, James Cooper opposite setter, Luciano Pinter & Marc Richardson at outside attack, veterans Alex Bialokoz & Andy Omoshebi at middle attack and Steven Fee as libero.  Richard Dobell, Mark Brown and Darius Setsofia warmed the sub’s bench.

The teams were evenly balanced with powerful spikes from Richardson and Pinter being matched by Lynx attackers Ed Ekanem and Antonio Codrington.  The stalemate was shattered mid-set when a collision between Pinter and Bialokoz ended in Pinter landing awkwardly.  A loud scream from Pinter echoed around Ernest Bevin’s sports hall, bringing the game to a halt as Pinter received attention.  After a few minutes, Williams was forced to substitute Setsofia for Pinter and allow the game to continue.  Malory then gave up six points forcing Williams to make another substitution (bringing on Dobell for Trodden) in an attempt to distract the striding Lynx.  They recovered a few points but were unable to prevent Lynx from taking the set 25-21.

A visibly frustrated Williams read his team the riot act before set two, reminding them of how critical this game was to their title hopes.  Clever opening serves from Omoshebi backed by solid defensive work from his team-mates gave Malory the first five points and forced Lynx into an early time-out.  On the re-start, Lynx managed to steal a point but were unable to harness the rampant Eagles.  Exquisite setting from Dobell and irrepressible attacks from Richardson and Setsofia drove Malory forward to a 16 minute, 25-11 rout.

To everyone’s surprise, Lynx charged into the third set determined to restore their lead.  The continued power attacks from Malory were suppressed by Lynx middle blocker Diego Caielli.  The teams stayed level to twenty when a combination of serving and offensive pressure from Malory gave them a crucial three point lead.  Lynx were unable to hold on allowing Malory to take the set 25-22.

The teams remained tense for set four with offensive and defensive pressure giving way to poor serving and errors.  As in set three, neither team was able to establish a lead, the players obviously tiring in this last game before the Christmas break.  Malory eventually gave up the fight, allowing Lynx to take two points and the forth set, 27-25.

The shorter fifth set (played to 15 instead of 25) is often a lottery so the players walked on to court hesitantly.  After taking the first point, Malory slipped back giving Lynx a slight lead up to the half-point charge of ends.  The new perspective did not help Malory as they continued to concede points.  With Lynx establishing a solid lead at 10-5, the home crowd fell silent as they expected their side to lose its second game of the season.  Coach Williams chose not to intervene, expecting the Eagles to claw themselves back into the game.  A few mistakes from Lynx and some lucky breaks for Malory brought them within touching distance of the visitors.  Lynx tried to close out the set but were unable to get the two consecutive points they needed.  At 19-all, Richardson took a lonely walk to the service area pondering whether to play it safe or go all out.  The youngster kept his cool and delivered two powerful jump-serves to take the set 21-19.  Malory irrupted in relief as the final whistle blew, leaving an exhausted and dejected Lynx side.

Malory Eagles remain second in division 1, three points behind leaders Sheffield (who beat strugglers Bristol 3-1) but with a game in hand.  The boys will need to skip Christmas pudding if they’re to push for silverware this season.  Williams will also be hoping that the break allows Pinter a full recovery from his ankle strain.

South London Press - Download
London Volleyball Association - Link
Wandsworth Guardian - Link

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