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Champions Cup victors decided in Cape
- Updated: October 12, 2012
The University of Western Cape┬á and the Tshwane University of Technology were crowned men’s and women’s winners respectively at volleyball’s prestigious Champions Cup contested in the Western Cape.
The tournament was contested at the University of Cape Town and Western Cape Sports Schools venues.
UWC downed the Durban University of Technology 26-24 in the men’s final and TUT beat Johannesburg based Delfos 25-22.
Both UWC and TUT have qualified to represent South Africa at the African continental club championship in December this year.
Making their seventh appearance in the final of the Champions Cup since its inauguration in 2000 DUT were confident that this time round they would reach the podium as gold medallists
With Chatsworth youngster, Jamine Naidoo in superb form as a power attacker the stage was set for DUT to put their hands on the coveted silverware that eluded them for more than a decade.
In the final and boasting five SA national team players in their first six, the defending champions were in pole position to retain the coveted championship silverware. Grabbing a 25-17 opening set win UWC were set to dominate proceedings when started the second set at a blistering pace.
Keeping a watchful eye on their opponents’ attackers DUT blockers, marshalled by Avin Lala, slowly began to take the sting out of their attack. A steady supply of back court passes from Lloyd Samigan gave setter Sholen Govender a variety of attacking options to work with. It was Govender who plotted UWC’s defeat when he brought the best out of attackers Naidoo and Morais that had the defending champions reeling. DUT were rewarded with a 25-17 win to level the scores at 1-1.
UWC bounced back to take the lead with a 25-22 win that forced DUT to take the fight to their opponents in order to keep their hopes alive of upsetting the defending champions.
Showing no respect for the Cape side the DUT attack force spearheaded by Naidoo unleashed their fury on their opponents’ blockers. Not to be out done UWC responded with equal venom and kept the score board ticking.┬á At 16-16 a series of silly mistakes allowed UWC to stretch their lead to 19-16 and a possible early closure of the set. An orchestrated fight back brought DUT back into contention as they levelled the scores at 24-24. Up stepped UWC’s middle blocker, Margo Daniels and youngster, Dean Layters who shut the door to DUT’s efforts to upstage them.
UWC went on to post a hard fought 26-24 win to retain the national championship title.
The women’s final saw defending champions TUT up against Delfos in a pulsating encounter.
With an undefeated record in the build-up to the final, TUT quickly stamped their authority on the match and took a runaway 10-5 lead in the opening set. Annah Phago and Nono Reetsang were TUT’s chief destroyers.
Crucial blocking from Delfos’ Jenny Edwards and Frengy Mathato slowed the pace of the defending champions’ rampant attack force. With Julia Thomas and Kirsten Pocock attacking every time setter Natasha Strydom brought them into the fray it helped restore some pride. Delfos narrowed TUT’s lead to 12-10. But they were made to pay dearly for poor reception by their back court players that restricted setter Natasha Strydom from creating a variety of attacking options. TUT went on to close the opening set with a 25-14 score line.
Gaining in confidence Delfos then took the fight to the defending champions and were rewarded with a commanding 13-6 lead. When TUT’s Annah Phago and Nono Reetsang combined well in attack and dominated at the net, they evened the scores at 19-19. While Delfos were guilty of committing a few unforced errors at crucial times they nevertheless maintained composure and edged out TUT by a 25-21 margin to level the scores at 1-1.
A hard fought third set could have gone either way had it not been for setter of the tournament Nthabiseng Morifi’s crafty setting that set TUT apart from their challengers. Consistency in playmaker Nthabiseng’s service to her attackers was the difference between the two sides. Phago and Reetsang┬á latched onto Morifi’s quality sets to edge out Delfos by a nail biting 25-23 margin to take a 2-1 lead in the best of five sets final.
While TUT were oozing with confidence in the opening minutes of the fourth set, their road to success was not an easy one. The closely contested set raised the temperature in the respective camps.
TUT were worried that a loss in the crucial fourth set would push them to the limits as they wouldbe forced to do battle in the ‘do or die’ fifth. The fans were delighted when the fireworks began at the very outset of the set. Attack for attack and power blocking from both sides kept the score board ticking evenly up to 20-20. But then wo service errors at crucial times took the wind out of Delfos’ sails.
At 20-20 Natasha Strydom’s service sailed out of bound to give TUT┬á a 21-20 lead and at 22-22 Julia Thomas’ service failed to clear the height of the net and went on to push TUT’s lead to 23-22. Taking advantage of the confusion in the Delfos camp, TUT sneaked in with a deserved 25-22 win to retain the Champions Cup title for the second consecutive year.
Most valuable men’s player of the tournament was Jamine Naidoo from DUT while TUT’s Annah Phago was most valuable women’s player.