It came as no surprise that the pick of the matches on the final day of the 2018 edition of Volleyball South Africa’s Inter-Provincial Tournament was the mouth watering encounter between KZN, the defending champions and the much fancied host province, Limpopo.
However, it was the experience of the KZN Senior Men’s team at this level of competition that paved the way to a 25-17; 21-25; 25-15; 25-17 victory to lift the coveted silverware once again.
Central to KZN’s victory was their mercurial play maker, Sholen Govender whose ability to create a variety of attacking options gave the KZN lads a morale boosting 25-17 first set win. KZN’s convincing first set win raised the alarm bells in the Limpopo camp. Changes in strategy to contain the KZN attackers and stepping up their own attack force were hurriedly discussed at the end of the set. However, over confidence, lapses in concentration and committing unforced errors allowed the home side to claw their way back into contention with a 25-21 score to level matters 1-1.
Unfazed by Limpopo’s attempts to unseat them Sholen Govender’s men stuck to their game plan and put the pressure on the Limpopo blockers. Wilting under pressure Limpopo went on to succumb to a 25-18; 25-17 defeat to the high riding men from Kwa Zulu Natal who went on to retain the national silverware.
In the Senior Women’s final it was a dream come true for SAPS, VSA’s associate member who squared up against KZN in what was billed as a titanic battle. For SAPS ladies it was a most memorable occasion as it was their first appearance at his level of competition.
Rising up to the occasion SAPS took the fight to the KZN team with vigour.
The opening minutes of the first set was most exciting for the fans as both teams threw everything in to attack to put quick points on the board.
With KZN’s middle blocker, Yasmin Rajak taking care of matters at the net the SAPS attackers found the goings increasingly difficult as they failed to go past the KZN blockers. With frustration raising its ugly head SAPS committed unforced errors which added to their woes.
Rajak’s sparkling role as blocker and power attacker helped the KZN ladies to close proceedings with convincing wins in the 2nd and 3rd sets by a 25-13; 25-18 score line.
The KZN Senior Women’s team won the encounter in straight sets (3-0) to reach the podium as the tournament’s gold medallists.
It seemed that “lady luck” turned her back on the KZN Junior Men’s team who after having taken a hard fought 2-0 lead ( 25-23; 28-26) against Gauteng let the final slip through their fingers when they went down, 21-25; 22-25; 16-18 in the gruelling Junior Men’s final.
The crest fallen KZN lads marched “with a degree of sadness” to the podium to pick up the silver medals. Tournament favourites, Gauteng won gold with an intensely contested 3-2 victory (23-25; 26-28; 25-21; 25-22; 18-16 over KZN, their bitter rivals.
In the Junior Women’s category Limpopo won gold while Gauteng and KZN were the silver and bronze medallists respectively.
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