Host province, Limpopo chose Gauteng as their opening fixture when the draws for the Junior National Tournament (U19) for both genders were held at the Park- Inn Hotel by Radisson in Polokwane on Monday, 11 July. The Junior IPT is scheduled to take place from 12 to 15 July at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi
Indoor Sports Complex in Seshego.
Given the pedigree in the Gauteng’s u19 boys’ team one would have expected Limpopo to have preferred to play that encounter later in the round robin stage. However, their coach felt differently. True to form, Gauteng made their intentions quite clear from the first whistle that they were on a march to the podium as the tournament’s gold medallists. Spearheading his team’s offensive strategy, the tall and strongly built Heiko Guther posted quick points on the board giving the Limpopo blockers no chance of containing him. He became an instant crowd favourite. With mercurial player maker Aiden Pillay delivering quality sets, attackers Jaivan Marimuthu and the quick hitting Kemoloile Otsweleng joined in the
action to wrap the first set with a convincing 25-14 win. Never in danger of losing the encounter the Gauteng lads went on to close proceedings with a 25-21; 25-19 victory to register their first win in the 2022Junior IPT.
On the other- hand Gauteng’s arch rival, KZN U19 boys’ team had an easy win
against Mpumalanga ending the encounter in straight sets (3-0) (25-14; 25-10; 25-19) to occupy pole position in their group. KZN’s 2 nd match against Free State was a thrilling encounter that drew a large
crowd of supporters. The crowd added to the excitement as they repeatedly shouted out words of encouragement to their favourite players. When KZN’s Tariq Ally and middle blocker Chiraj Kassie turned on their magic with ‘’body-blow’’ attacks that gradually weakened the Free State’s defence to allow KZN to post a hard fought 25-22 first set win. However, things went horribly wrong for the Free State team as they slumped in the face of a rampant attack force led by Tariq Ally. Free State were bundled out by a 25-12 margin. Despite a fight back by the Free State lads in the crucial 3rd set, KZN had no intention of prolonging the match as they won the encounter by a 25-21 score line.
The final match of the ‘’loadshedding’’ interrupted day, the North West Boys’ team squared up against a determined Mpumalanga outfit that desperately wanted to register a win in the tournament after having lost to KZN in straight sets in their opening fixture. North West’s resilience paid off as they squeezed
past Mpumalanga with a 25-20 first set win. However, the 2 nd set could have gone Mpumalanga’s way had ‘lady-luck’ not turned her back on them. In a nail-biting 2 nd set it was the North West team that threw caution to the wind to record a 29-27 victory. The energy sapping 2 nd set left the Mpumalanga lads in a state of disarray. They bowed out by a 25-10 margin.
In the girls u19 division North West and Mpumalanga lead their respective groups when they posted wins in their matches on the opening day against KZN and Free State and Gauteng and Limpopo respectively.
North West’s opening match against KZN was not a ‘walk in the park’ for the former as they were made to fight all the way to record a 25-21; 26-24; 20-25; 25-19 win. With the Free State girls’ team posing no real threat to upsetting North West’s march to victory, the latter posted a 25-16; 25-15; 25-22 win to head their group.
In the 2nd group the opening match between Mpumalanga and Gauteng showed promises of being a thrilling crowd -pleasing encounter. Living up to the expectations the first set was a block-blustering encounter as both teams kept the score board ticking evenly. When the scores locked at 25-25 it was the
Mpumalanga ladies that went on to snatch victory with a 27-25 win. It seemed that the opening set was too taxing for the Gauteng team as they fell apart at 25-13 to give Mpumalanga an unassailable 2-0 lead. In the 3rd set the Mpumalanga lasses registered a 25-22 win. Mpumalanga recorded a straight sets win against Limpopo in their 2nd match of the day when they posted a 25-12; 25-23; 25-16 win to head their group.
Jacob Thamaga – VSA Media/PR Director (072 594 5972)