Little Giants beat Lionhearts Pride (Men’s D2B - London Volleyball League) 20:22 21:15 21:15 21:18 Second place prize This was the first league game at Giants brand new venue and team manager Cisel Ormanci expressed her pride that all went well after her nervousness before the game. There were nerves all round for the team too after losing the first set but they came back well to defeat their rivals and climb to second place in the league table.
There had been an unusual start to the first set. From first service Giants went 4:0 ahead before Pride, on the foundation of great serving by Jan Coppin, dominated until 4:8. The next four rallies went to Giants and the game then settled down to a tense struggle. The lead went to one side and then the other and Giants had set point at 20:19. Pride took a time out; Pride nerves were settled. Pride took a one set lead.
The visiting side made the stronger start to the second set too but the lead was a slender one and Giants showed some frustration, enough for them to receive a warning from the referee at 10:12: good officiating. Playing a calmer game, Giants moved into the lead at last at 15:14 and Pride called for a time-out after losing the following rally. It didn't halt the hosts' revival which continued to set point but sadly for them, that point saved, Pride duly lost the one that followed.
Pride made a blistering start to the next set, taking the first five rallies. Giants then settled and gradually cut the deficit to 6:10. Then with Simon Granger serving and with Anton Romalijsky, Francesco Rigante and John Theocharopoulos combining well at the net, Giants took the lead and increased it to 14:10 and reached set point after Pride had closed to 14:12, despite a Pride time-out at 12:18. Determination saved three set points but fifteen was as high a score as the visitors could reach.
The fourth set was a humdinger. There was little between the sides with Pride holding a lead of no more than a single point from 3:2 to 10:10 when the spotlight fell on server Krasi Zhechev and three different attackers: Guiseppe de Mosa and Marcin Tkaczuk alongside Simon Granger. Things looked good for Giants at 15:10 but a time-out then secured side-out and Pride regained their form to recover to 15:13 and then 16:16, with good play from Jan Coppin, Maxandre Hirt and skipper, Sabastien Gerber. The tension tightened. Giants coped with it the better and quickly reached 19:17 but with traces of jitters on their part and great determination on Prides', the visitors saved three match points for to reach eighteen before Giants could rejoice.
Captain Roberto's commented after the game, "Coming back to win is amazing. The team showed great motivation on court. There was a bit of nervousness since the game was pretty critical for the league ranking but in the end we did it and we did it in a great way. I am very happy with the team performance. Now let's stay focused as next week we face this team again"
That match is on 15th March and will be played at the same centre, Pride having relinquished the Copper Box for the April evening for another team.
Clapham Leisure Centre, Clapham, 8th March
Players: Giant Men Starting Six: Federico Cifuentes, Victor Goncalves, Simon Granger, Roberto Rigante, Anton Romalijsky, Krasi Zhechev. Libero: Rafael Jovanelle, Ibrail Khan. Other players: Paolo de Grazia, Guiseppe de Mosa, Ioannis (John) Theocharopoulos, Marcin Tkaczuk. Coach: Anestis Kales.
Lionhearts Pride Starting six: Janaazie Coppin, Efenikos Erdogan, Sabastien Gerber (captain), Tobias Henkel. Maxandre Hirt, Ryuzo Motomura. Libero: Dino Vo. Other players: Isaac Armah, Treyvis David, Benjamin Rault, Owen Voge. Coach: