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SA book Games spot
- Updated: March 4, 2011
The South African men’s volleyball side booked their spot in the All Africa Games later this year with victory in the Zone VI qualifying tournament in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.
Coach Loet Groenewald’s men downed Zimbabwe in the final day’s play, winning in straight sets 3-0 (27-7 25-16 25-19) to end the tournament as overall winners. They topped the standings ahead of Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Our women weren’t as lucky on Thursday, going down 3-1 to Botswana and ending second to their northern neighbours. Mozambique ended third but as they’re hosting the All Africa Games in September, they receive an automatic qualifying spot.
The South African men’s side came out blazing and won the opening set in style with a crushing 25-7 margin. While Andile Masinga and newcomer to the national team set-up, Warwick Ellerbeck, were solid in defence at the net, Freedom Chiya, Kirshen Govender and Sugendran Govender were merciless as they powered their way past the Zimbabwean blockers.
Excellent passing from libero Shaien Govender gave playmaker Gershon Rorich several options to work with. The crowd’s favourite was when Rorich brought on Freedom Chiya as a quick attacker from the back court middle that beat the unsuspecting blockers time and again.
In the second set the Zimbabwean attackers had a sudden rush of adrenalin that took the SA team by surprise. With the scores deadlocked at 9-9, it was Masinga and Chiya that combined well to post a runaway score. Masinga was particularly wicked when he struck the ball almost out of Rorich’s hand from the utility position that left the opposition cover players in total disarray. Kirshen, Ben and Warwick pitched in with a fair share of power hitting to close proceedings with a 25-16 score line.
Chiya’s ‘cracking hit’ in the middle got the SA team to a flying start in the third set. With a comfortable 16-11 lead the SA team then took their foot off the pedal. The Zimbabwean attackers seized the opportunity and closed the points gap but with Rorich in sublime form the SA lads tightened the noose and wrapped the set up with a 25-17 margin to lift the coveted Zone VI silverware.
The SA women were unlucky to be edged out 25-23 in the opening set of their clash against favourites Botswana. While injury plagued the key players after their encounter against Mozambique on Wednesday, the team rallied around the ‘first-timers’ against the tall and hard-hitting Botswana ladies.
With the occasional service reception error raising its ugly head the SA team struggled to keep pace with their opponents’ rampant attack force and SA lost the set by a 25-23 margin. A stellar performance from attackers Tsepang Thafeng and Anna Phago brought the South Africans back in contention. With playmaker Raycine Sunker turning each time to her attacking duo, the home side romped in with a convincing 25-21 win to level matters.
Not to be out done the Botswana women fired on all cylinders in the opening minutes of the third set that forced the SA team onto the back foot. Committing a series of┬á service reception errors once again further exacerbated the situation for the home side. The third set ended in favour of Botswana when skipper Zandy Erasmus drove her service into the net (25-19).
The closely contested fourth set raised home side fans’ hopes of an upset victory against a fired up Botswana team that celebrated every point as it was the winning point. Taking a 20-16 lead the visitors seemed to have the match wrapped up. Clawing their way back despite all the set backs, the local girls narrowed the lead to 22-20.┬á But once again service reception mistakes put paid to South Africa’s hopes of booking their place in the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique and Botswana won the set with a 25-21 margin.
Good work lads.. Best show of volleyball by far from us.. Take it to the next level at All Africa.. KG #9
Hey sibu... Its a brilliant sport and a beautiful game.. Its my passion.. Hard work and determination will help reach your dream! Keep it up.. Kirshen
I really love this sport, started playing it when I was 11 and when I was 12 I played at provincial level, I hope I can be on SA squad one day. Wish all players the best of life at all Africa games.