VSA CHAMPIONS CUP 2022 – Day 1 Wrap Men

Day 1: A Wrap Up of (Men’s matches played at the Tongaat Indoor Sports Centre.

Predators from KZN, the 2021 Champions Cup winners had the honour of playing
the opening fixture of the 2022 Champions Cup at the Tongaat Indoor Sports Centre.
They were pitted against Paragon, the ‘’new kids on the block’’ from Port Shepstone
on the South Coast of KZN.

While the reigning champions did not have it all their own way, they emerged
victorious with a 25-22; 25-15; 25-23 score line. After a 25-15 thrashing in the 2 nd set,
the ‘Sheppie’ lads bounced back and almost sneaked in with a win when the scores
were locked at 26-26. Latching onto mercurial playmaker Quwin Naidoo’s tailor
made sets the Botswana international, Tiroyaone Otimile unleashed consecutive
power hits from the utility position to seal the encounter with a hard fought 28-26 win.
Dubbed the ‘clash of the universities’ local lads, UKZN squared up against their
Pretoria rivals, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in a marathon four set
thriller. UKZN fought to the bitter end to win the bruising encounter by 19-25; 25-23;
25-22; 25-23 score line.

Title contenders Lions from KZN had a ‘walk in the park’ encounter against the
Western Cape outfit, Ballers. The Capetonians debut in the Champions Cup is
something that they will easily want to forget as they slumped to a 25-17; 25-6;
25 -11 defeat in double quick time.

One would have expected that the Kamplits versus Liberte match would have been a
long drawn out affair as both teams relied heavily on power attacking and solid
blocking. Liberte, the ‘’People’s team of Tongaat’ ’started the match oozing with
confidence to register their first win in the 2022 Champions Cup. Meanwhile,
Kamplits of Limpopo are an entertaining outfit whose attackers are among the most
feared in national competitions. Frans Lefawana, Kamplits’ outstanding setter did his
best to service his attackers well with the quicker set to put points on the board.
However, Liberte’s blockers were unflinching in defending at the net. Although
Jonas Motlhobi was devastating in attack, it was not enough to prevent them from
losing their opening match by a 3-0 margin (25-20; 25-20; 25-22)
Spectators who watched the enthralling encounter between arch KZN rivals,
Predators, the 2021 Champions Cup gold medallists and Lions would have
expressed concern as there were so many injuries that caused unnecessary time

After a pulsating 26-24 win in favour of Lions, Predators struck back winning the 2 nd
set by a 25-21 margin to level matters (1-1). Lions went on to capture the 3 rd set with
a convincing 25-18 win to take a 2-1 lead.

‘’This is a match of many injuries,’’ shouted one of the spectators when the 4 th player
fell to the floor in agony.

‘’At least the paramedic was kept busy running to the court to attend to the injured
players,’’ quipped one of the fans.

The heart stopping 4 th set brought loud cheers from the spectators as the scoreboard
was kept ticking evenly up to 25-25. Living up to their name, Predators seized the
opportunity to close proceeding with a nail biting 27-25 win to force the match into
the deciding 5 th set. The crowd -pleasing 5 th set could have easily be mistaken as the final of the
Champions Cup as both teams went on a full scale attack and blocking strategy in
their attempts to seek out and exploit one another’s weaknesses. Lions won the explosive 5 th set by a 16-14 score line.

UKZN’s suffered a set- back in their second match on day one against TUKS when
they succumbed to a 22-25 loss in the opening set. A tongue lashing from coach
Kiruben Naicker, a former SA national team player had an immediate impact as his
young team romped home to a sparkling 25-15 beating of the Pretoria team.
After levelling matters at 1-1 the confidence that the UKZN lads gained from their 2 nd
set win helped them to wrap up the 3 rd and 4 th sets with a 25-18; 25-22 victory.
The penultimate match on day one was between Port Shepstone’s ‘’top guns’’,
Falcons and Paragon which ended in a 5 -set win for Falcons, 25-17; 17-25; 21-25;
25-22; 15-9. Their rivalry was evident every time one of the attackers latched on to perfect set to
blast the opponents off the court. At times sacrificing control for power resulted in
loss of points as the attacker was either blocked back to his feet or the ball zoomed
out of the court. What was also evident to the spectators was that both teams
enjoyed the encounter.

Limpopo’s Kamplits unleashed their aggression on DUT after their opening match
defeat against Liberte. Master setter Frans Lefawana was in sparkling form as he
serviced his attackers well to blast their way past the hapless DUT in straight sets,
25-16; 25-6; 25-17.

The final match of the first day of the Champions Cup men’s fixtures was between
VUT and the Western Cape’s Ballers. The Capetonians debut at the 2022
Champions Cup was a baptism of fire for the minnows from the Cape who were
thrashed by VUT in straight sets 25-7; 25-6; 25-12. For VUT, from Gauteng a walk
over given against them for not presenting them for the match against Falcons.
Reaching the semi-finals is going to be a daunting task for VUT as they have inform
contenders Lions and Predators in their group. Only time will tell whether VUT will
have to pay a heavy price for their late arrival at the Champions Cup when the top
two spots in their group are clinched ahead of them.

Donovan Nair

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