Great five-setter at Caius House Fireball outscored Giants by 92 points to 81 in a titanic effort away in Battersea but a tremendous surge in the first half of the deciding fifth set secured victory for the home side who awarded a Most Valuable Player award to Idjiwa.
Giants made an excellent start to the first set and had forced a Fireball time-out at 5:1 that had settled but not got on top so had to take another at 9:15. Even then, they needed a couple of rotations before looking stronger, helped with good serving by their captain that took them to within a point of parity. The rest of the set proved to be exhilarating; the teams were soon on equal terms and traded point for point until 22:all was reached. Giants nerves proved the stronger.
Giants began the next set the better moving into a 6:4 lead but then suddenly lost their way as Fireball raced to 7:10 then 8:19. Way recovered, the remainder of the set was more competitive but the Fireball advantage much too great to be overcome. That heralded another exciting period of play as the third set unfolded. Playing a libero and using tactical substitutions, Giants looked the more advanced side technically but Fireball simplicity cut down on errors and the teams were locked in combat right up to 14:all. With Mark Angelo, Rochas Gauthier and Wenhao Li combining well at the net, Giants then took a three point lead and, although Fireball then matched their hosts to 17:19, having obtained side out, Giants quickly polished them off.
They then collapsed and Fireball got more and more confident as the fourth set progressed. A time out at 1:5 achieved a side-out after losing one more rally; another at 5:16 merely encouraged Fireball to race to nineteen. After that, although Giants did manage four more points, the fate of the set was sealed. The damage was done from 4:all in the fifth set. In front of good serving by Rochas, Giants moved quickly ahead to earn the change of ends without Fireball adding to their score. From that point Giants never looked like losing although coach Ponti took at time-out at 14:11 to make sure they did not relax.
These teams move to third and fourth on the league table, equal on points, separated by one set difference
Caius House Youth Centre, Battersea, 25th November
Players: Giant Men 2 Starting Six: Mark Angelo, Matthias Cuciniello, Rochas Gauthier, Idjiwa, Wenhao Li, Stefano Valloni (captain). Libero: Jean-Michael, Duy Nyugen. Other players: Sami Essaiem, Daniel Nesbitt, Nazzareno Scaglia, Emilio Torres. Coach: G Ponti.
Fireball Starting Six: Daniel Carrarde, Krzysztof Dorosz, Steinar Halldorsson, Jay Sangha, Nicolas Vecchione, Rob Wykes (captain). Libero; Herve Mottais. Other players: Reuben Ruiz-Daum. Coach: Marcelo Cordova.