The opening fixture of the 2022 NVL staged at the Tempe Military Base Sports Arena between Gauteng Thunderbolts and the Western Cape Cranes was a fiery encounter that thrilled and excited the spectators. The quality of the exchanges between the teams was a clear indication of the high standard of volleyball in their respective provinces.
The Thunderbolts made their intentions clear that they were determined to take the coveted NVL silverware to Gauteng, the ‘’home of the champions’’. Spurred on by their determination to reach the podium as the tournament’s gold medallists the Gauteng lads got off to a sparkling start when they fired a series of ‘thunderbolts’ at their opponents.
Riding on the crest of the wave the Gauteng team posted a runaway lead, much to the delight of their fans. However, things became horribly uncomfortably for the Thunderbolts when the Cranes fought back through Clinton Stemmet, the former SA National team power attacker who was unstoppable from position 4 whenever playmaker Antonio Rossouw directed sets to him. Through Stemmet’s solo efforts
the Western Cape Cranes closed the points gap to 19-17’ When the quick hitting Danilo von Ludwigger joined in the attack with Baholo Makhomo it kept Gauteng’s hopes alive of a first set win. The fans applauded Mokohomo every time ‘’he pulled the trigger’ and unleashed his trade mark power cross court ‘scorching’ attacks that gave his opponents no hope of stopping him at the net. Mokohomo’s celebration after blasting his way past the blockers brought loud cheers from the spectators. Gauteng won the first set when skipper Lehlohonolo Pheko rose quickly to meet a short set in the middle from setter Khutso Mamabolo to hammer home a 25-20 score line.
Much to the disappointment of the high riding Gauteng Thunderbolts the Western Cape Cranes turned the tables on their more fancied opponents. Unable to contain Clinton Stemmet and his attackers the Gauteng lads slid to a 17-9 deficit ,starring at defeat. Veteran middle blocker, Margo Daniels pitched in with well executed blocks to keep the pressure on Gauteng. Clinton Stemmet sealed the 2 nd set with a fiery attack that wrapped up proceedings by a 25-16 ‘’hiding’’. The scores were levelled at 1-1.
Although the 3 rd set was closely contested the Thunderbolts used the strength of its attack force led by Danilo von Ludwigger and Baholo Makhomo to take a 2-1 lead when they posted a 25-20 score line.
It came as no surprise when the Thunderbolts lived up to their name and ‘’thundered’’ their way past the Cranes defence at the net with a 25-15 4th set win. Gauteng will square up against Free State in their 2nd round robin match.
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