VAAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY (VUT) V PREDATORS
The confidence that oozed from the VUT players when they took to the court to warm up for the final against KZN’s Predators seemed to have put them in pole position to lift the coveted Tubby Reddy Classic silverware. VUT went on to win the mouth watering final in a thrill a minute encounter by 3 sets to 2.
As the opening set unfolded it became apparent that VUT blockers had Predators power attacker, Jonas Motlhobi in their sight as Motlhobi had caused great havoc against all his opponents’ blockers, posting points with his trade mark bullet attacks. Motlhobi kept his team ahead whenever he connected with Predators’s setter Quwin Naidoo. However Predators were guilty of too many unforced service errors, the chief culprit being Jaisel Frank.
From a slender 7-6 lead Predators fate hung in the balance as VUT’s quick middle attacker, Lehlonoholo Pheko, Simbarashe Chidziva and skipper Khutso Mamabolo took control of the set and posted a 13-9 lead. Things went horribly wrong for the KZN team when unforced errors raised its ugly head. Concentrating in exploiting their strength ‘ in the middle’ VUT posted a morale boosting 25-17 first set win.
Predators Jonas Motlhobi and Jaisel Frank combined well to hammer on quick points off setter Quwin Naiddo’s tailor made sets that set the stage for a fight back by the KZN lads. When service errors plagued Predators through sheer carelessness VUT picked up their momentum and took a 10-7 lead. Hard work from the Predators blockers and attackers brought them back into contention as they levelled matters at 16-16. A solid well executed block by skipper Quwin Naidoo on VUT’s power hitter Chidziva sent the ball back to Chidziva’s feet that gave Predators a 17-16 lead. Refusing to be intimidated Chidziva latched onto VUT’s diminutive setter Kesego Kelwakae to blast home a quick attack to level the scores at 17-17.
Predators’ 19-17 lead was soon cut short when they committed unforced errors, once again the culprit being Jaisel Frank. At 21-21 Predators Jonas Motlhobi, a thorn in the side of VUT blasted his team in front with a 23-21 lead. With the score poised on a knife’s edge at 23-23 Motlhobi’s clinical finishing at the net secured a well deserved 25-23 win to level the sets at 1-1.
Despite committing far too many unforced errors which VUT should have capitalised on and taken a commanding lead, lady luck smiled on the KZN team who went on to win the set with a 25-19 score line to lead in the cracker jack final by 2 sets to 1.
In the ‘do or die’ 4th set the teams could not be separated as the attackers and blockers were kept busy trying to put quick points on the board. A win for Predators in the 4th set would have given them a 3-1 overall win that would have crowned as the gold medallists while a win for VUT will level the scores at 2-2 and force the final into the deciding 5th set.
The hard fought 4th set was thoroughly enjoying as the fans got behind their favourite team urging them on to victory. Both teams threw caution to the wind and chose to unleash power attack after one another giving the defence at the net a torrid time to contain the attackers. Eventually at 24-19 in favour of the high riding VUT, Predators skipper Quwin Naidoo ‘messed up’ his service that awarded VUT a 25-19 4th set win that levelled the scores at 2-2.
In the crucial 5th set a fired up VUT raced to a 7-1 lead in double quick time that threw Predators into disarray. Notwithstanding several attempts from Predators to grab the lead and close proceedings to reach the podium as the tournament’s gold medallists, it was VUT that stepped up ‘to the plate’ and wrapped up the final set with a well earned 15-11 score line and lift the coveted Tubby Reddy Classic silverware and the R20 000 winners’ cheque..
Both finalists qualify to represent South Africa at the 2019 African Zone 6 Club Champs in Malawi in December.