2019 VSA CUP, Bloemfontein Men’s Semi-final match reports

The match of the day was without a doubt the cracking encounter between Gauteng rivals the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and Atlanta Eastleigh Kings who went on to win the crowd pleasing first semi-final clash in straight sets (3-0), 26-24; 25-20; 25-19 to contest the gold medal match on Friday.

With two foreign nationals, Kesego Kewakae (Botswana) and the hard hitting Zimbabwean, Simbarashe Chidziva in their starting line up VUT were set to overpower the Kings and surge ahead into the finals.

However things panned out differently for VUT who were taken aback with the fighting spirit from the Eastleigh Kings who showed no respect for the ‘big hitting’ VUT attack force. With powerful exchanges at the net by both teams one could have easily mistaken the match for a hard fought final. As a reward for their relentless efforts to derail VUT’s chances of victory Atlanta Eastleigh Kings went on to edge  out their more fancied opponents by a breath taking 26-24 margin in the opening set. Skipper Jamine Naidoo, Keifer Govender and Gerald Chetty combined well to latch onto setter Shalen Singh’s perfect sets to snatch a hard fought victory that put them in the driving seat. The sheer delight on the faces of the Atlanta Eastleigh Kings’ fans  spurred their team on to greater heights.

With King’s skipper Jamine Naidoo constantly encouraging his players to be focused on the job at hand and rise to the occasion put a damper on their opponents efforts to ‘turn the tables’ on them. With Mageshan Pillay taking care of matters in the back court and Keveshan Bhagwandin the lanky middle blocker standing strong in the heart of the Kings’ defence Jamine Naidoo’s men won the 2nd and 3rd sets with a 25-20; 25-19 margin to book their place in the final.

In the 2nd semi-final clash KZN’s Predators were too strong for minnows, the University of Free State (UOFS). The KZN team won the encounter in straight sets (3-0), 25-20; 25-19; 25-13 to meet Atlanta Eastleigh Kings in Friday’s final.

As the 2019 VSA Cup’s top two teams both the Atlanta Eastleigh Kings and the Predators will gain automatic qualification to the prestigious Tubby Reddy Classic which will be staged at Wits University’s Old Mutual Sports Hall in the last week of September.

Donovan Nair


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