Playing on ‘home turf’ with a vociferous partisan crowd support the Free State ladies team were almost guaranteed of victory against Gauteng who led Group A at that stage. Sadly, for the home side Gauteng’s veteran coach, G.P Fourie had other plans to overcome the challenges and keep his young charges focused on the ‘job at hand’, to win the encounter and maintain their unbeaten run in the round robin stage of the 2022 NVL.

Absorbing the pressure of the occasion the Gauteng ladies stuck to their game plan and maintained a slender lead (11-9) despite the partisan crowd’s loud cheering and thunderous support when ever the home side executed a block or grounded an attack. When the Free State’s ‘big hitting’ attacker, Kgomotso Mothopi’s consecutive services troubled Gauteng’s back court receivers, the alarm bells were sounded.

Although the loss of points levelled the scores at 14-14 the Gauteng team stepped up a few gears through Tatiana Simopoulos whose trade mark down the line spikes picked up valuable points. At crucial times setter Vanessa Sardinha-da Silva chose her middle attackers Jeanette Mokoatla and Makhosazana Dlamini to keep the team ahead on points when ever the ‘goings got tough’. Not to be out done, Free State’s Malwase Khoboko responded with venom when she connected with setter Mamoipone Kgomamajatsane well- crafted sets. The problem for the Free State was that their setter did not service Khoboko with regularity to pick up much needed points. An error for which the team will regret dearly.

When the first set score reached a breath taking 19-18, it was the Gauteng ladies’ determination to register a morale boosting win gave them the edge to wrap up proceedings with a 25-20 score line.
Gauteng’s shaky start in the 2 nd set gave the Free State ladies the opportunity to race to a 7-2 lead. The partisan crowd loved every second of the encounter as their favourite team were in the driving seat. When the Gauteng coach, G.P.Fourie introduced Nelia Tembe, his lanky middle attacker to the fray, things turned in favour of the Gauteng team. Janka Meyer pitched in with power attacks to the far ends of
the court and outside the reach of the cover players to keep the score board ticking.

From a 7-2 deficit Gauteng fought their way back into contention largely through Nelia Tembe, Tshedi Dlamini and middle attackers Mokoatla and Makhosazana to take a commanding 21-14 lead. Tshedi Dlamini three consecutive power services gave Gauteng a 24-15 lead which they converted to a 25-15 2 nd set win to take a 2-0 lead.

In the 3 rd set coach Fourie brought on first team setter Vanessa Sardinha-da Silva and moved Tshedi Dlamini into the utility position to give his team depth in attack. The move paid off well for Fourie’s team. However, a series of unforced service errors added to the woes of the home side.

With Nelia Tembe in devastating form, the Free State team had no chance of an upset victory against the high riding Gauteng ladies’ team. When the score reached 24-15 Nelia Tembe rose majestically and pounded the set almost off her setter’s outstretched hands to post a 25-15 3 rd set win.

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